Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka has been offered counselling by the club following his hostile reception from fans during their Premier League match against Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Gunners boss Unai Emery opted to substitute the skipper in the second half after the Gunners blew an early 2-0 lead. Xhaka left the pitch to jeers and boos from the Arsenal fans, to which he sarcastically encouraged by cupping his ear before removing his shirt and disappearing down the tunnel.
“He is upset, devastated and very sad,” Emery told reporters. "It is not only yesterday and today. He is feeling the supporters don't like him."
The Swiss midfielder’s retaliation to the match-day boos has not gone down well with pundits, with some questioning whether he will remain Arsenal captain after his outburst.
“Xhaka is the current captain, but I don’t think he will be captain anymore after what he did at the weekend,” ex-Arsenal striker Charlie Nicholas told Sky Sports. The Soccer Saturday star went on to empathise with Xhaka’s frustration but ultimately slams his negative response.
“If you don’t have a thick skin you can’t be a footballer.”
Xhaka’s Emirates flare-up is not the first time he has been booed by his own fans. The 27-year-old came under similar attack against Aston Villa last month, after he was brought off as the scoreline stood 2-1 to Villa. The Gunners went on to secure a 3-2 comeback, but the situation with Xhaka did not improve.
Emery has refused to confirm whether or not the skipper will keep the armband for Arsenal. The Spaniard named four vice-captains to Xhaka in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Héctor Bellerín, Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Özil. One of which could be asked to step up if Arsenal decide to strip the Swiss of the captaincy.
"My ideal future is to watch again Xhaka playing and every supporter supporting him,” said Emery. “I don't know if I can or will achieve it but this is my ideal.”
Xhaka’s fall-out with the fans at the Emirates adds him to the list of Arsenal leaders who have soured their own captaincy. Former teammate and predecessor Laurent Koscielny’s tenure was an underwhelming one for fans as the Gunners lost out on a Champions League place under his reign.
The Frenchman then burnt his bridges with the club after refusing to partake in the pre-season tour, before joining Bordeaux with a video announcement that involved him swapping an Arsenal shirt for one from his new employers.
Another failed era for Arsenal captains was the one with William Gallas at the hilt. The 2007/08 skipper became infamously known for sitting down in the centre-circle following his side’s 2-2 draw against Birmingham City which ultimately cost them the league title.
Gallas was later stripped of the armband after lashing out at his teammates in the media while on international duty.
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