Xhaka increases doubt over future at Arsenal
Captain drops Instagram profile showing club kit Emery urges fans to give Swiss second chance
Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka has fuelled further doubt over his future at the Emirates by changing his Instagram profile picture from one in which he is sporting the club armband for one of him captaining Switzerland.
The midfielder had already enraged Arsenal supporters with the angry way he reacted to being substituted last Sunday in the
2-2 home draw with Crystal Palace, gesturing towards the stands when he was booed off, before appearing to swear at fans as he made his way down the tunnel.
Xhaka has had an uneasy relationship with Arsenal’s supporters and manager
Unai Emery (right) said the player’s actions last Sunday were wrong but insisted he had been badly affected by the incident.
Emery confirmed the 27-year-old would not be involved in tonight’s Carabao Cup tie at Liverpool, with Mesut Ozil set to return.
Arsenal have offered the player support and Emery was at pains to point out Xhaka’s well-being should be addressed as a priority before considering the captaincy or the possibility of disciplinary action.
“When we make individual mistakes, we need to make apologies for the circumstances,” said Emery. “I prefer to do that. We suggest to him to do it.
“But now, what is the response we are seeing? It’s that he is devastated and he is very down. The first thing is to recover him, his feelings. We need our family, our friends, our supporters to support us, like us.
“He is not feeling that with the supporters. But we are speaking with him to first be calm and be close with his family and be close with us.” Asked whether Xhaka would remain captain, Emery added: “We need to go step by step, step by step. First is to recover him, as a human, as a player.
“And then we are going to continue speaking about how we can improve, how we can continue in that way with him, with the team and with everybody.”
Emery insisted there was a way back for Xhaka, citing the treatment of right-back Hector Bellerin, who had been the target of fans’ criticism in recent years before finding himself back in favour.
“My ideal future is to watch again Xhaka playing and every supporter supporting him,” said the Spaniard.
“I was speaking with Hector and he said to me that he received some criticism three years ago because people weren’t happy with his performance and then he came back.
“The most important thing is to keep moving ahead, working, improving and showing to people that if one moment they don’t like him, to work to change that situation.”
Emery insists Xhaka was always likely to miss the Liverpool match as he rotates his squad. “David Luiz and Calum Chambers are not involved in the group. Pierre-emerick Aubameyang isn’t involved in the group either.”
He confirmed, though, that Ozil would return to the match-day squad after a six-game absence and said the Germany international could even be handed the armband.
“It depends because he’s one of the captains,” added Emery. “I’m not thinking exactly yet, but we are going to decide the first XI and if he’s in the first XI. It depends on who else plays.”
Reaction: Granit Xhaka changed his Instagram picture after being jeered