Xhaka ‘wrong’ to feud with Arsenal fans, says Emery

LONDON (AFP) – Unai Emery refused to confirm if Granit Xhaka will remain as Arsenal captain after admitting the Swiss star was wrong to become embroiled in an astonishing feud with Gunners fans during their 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace late last Sunday.

Emery’s side blew a two-goal lead at the Emirates Stadium before Xhaka’s tantrum laid bare the simmering tensions at a club in danger of spiralling into crisis.

When Xhaka was replaced by Bukayo Saka in the second half, the midfielder trudged slowly to the touchline while petulantly gesticulating to the fans who had cheered his substitution and were angrily urging him to get off the pitch quicker.

Xhaka’s meltdown climaxed when he ripped off his shirt, appeared to shout at supporters and stormed past Emery straight down the tunnel to more derision from the stands. Having watched his skipper behave in such a childish manner, Emery conceded Xhaka was out of line.

“He was wrong. I want to be calm but, really, he was wrong in this action,” Emery said.

“We are working with the players to play under pressure. In a difficult moment you can be hot. You have to be clever.

“We play for the supporters. We need to have a lot of respect for them when they are applauding us and when they are criticising us.”

Xhaka, appointed captain in the close-season, was already disliked by sections of the Arsenal fan base after his largely disappointing form since his move in 2016.

The 27-year-old faced calls to be stripped of the captaincy from Arsenal fans on social media.

Crystal Palace’s goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey makes a save in front of Arsenal’s Sokratis Papastathopoulos (L) and Granit Xhaka. PHOTO: AP