Arsenal STRIP Granit Xhaka of captaincy and leave him out of Europa League trip to Portugal as fallout from his clash with fans continues with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang named new skipper
- Granit Xhaka has been stripped of the Arsenal captaincy by boss Unai Emery
- Midfielder will also not travel with Arsenal for Europa League clash with Vitoria
- Xhaka was involved in an angry exchange with club’s fans against Crystal Palace
- Former captain has not played for the club since that incident at the Emirates
Granit Xhaka has been sensationally STRIPPED of the Arsenal captaincy.
And head coach Unai Emery refused to give Xhaka – left out of the Gunners squad again for Wednesday’s Europa League trip to Vitoria Guimaraes – any assurances over his long-term future at the Emirates.
Emery informed midfielder Xhaka that he would no longer lead the club on Tuesday, following his extraordinary fallout with the club’s fans.
Granit Xhaka reacted angrily after he was booed when substituted against Crystal Palace
Unai Emery has now confirmed that Xhaka has been stripped of the captain’s armband
Vitoria (4-3-3): Silva; Garcia, Venancio, Tapsoba, Hanin; Pepe, Agu, Poha; Edwards, Duarte, Davidson
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Martínez; Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Kolasinac; Maitland-Niles, Willock, Torreira; Pepe, Martinelli, Saka
Referee Halis Ozkahya (Turkey)
Xhaka’s furious response to being jeered when he was substituted against Crystal Palace 10 days ago ended with the Swiss star storming off the pitch and telling Arsenal supporters to ‘f*** off.’
Emery immediately implored the midfielder to say sorry but Xhaka compounded the situation by waiting until last Thursday to break his silence, stopping short of offering a full apology as he explained his outburst.
Xhaka was originally voted in as skipper by Arsenal’s players.
Striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is now next in line having been chosen as the second captain in Emery’s initial group of five though as he has also not travelled to Portugal Hector Bellerin is set to be skipper on Wednesday.
Emery, who has omitted Xhaka for the third game running, said on Tuesday: ‘I was speaking with him this morning and also I decided he is not one of the captains in our group. I decided that and I told him this morning.
Emery told Xhaka the news on Tuesday morning, and midfielder will also not play this week
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has now been appointed Arsenal’s club captain, says Emery
SQUAD FOR VITORIA
Leno, Martinez, Bellerin, Holding, Sokratis, Mustafi, Maitland-Niles Kolasinac, Tierney, Torreira, Ceballos, Guendouzi, Willock, Saka, Nelson, Lacazette, Pepe, Martinelli
‘He accepted my decision. And also I told the other captains the decision. We have now Aubameyang, Hector, Lacazette and Ozil.
‘They are the four captains and the first now is Aubameyang. We need to carry on and focus for the match against Vitoria and next Saturday’s match [against Leicester]. I needed to make a decision and now it is closed.’
Emery has made a big statement and significant show of authority by dumping Xhaka and going against the choice made by his players.
And the Spaniard’s call, one of the biggest of his Arsenal reign, has left Xhaka’s future in doubt.
Xhaka’s current contract runs until 2023 though he faces a major battle to recover having alienated supporters and now lost the armband.
Arsenal youngsters (L-R) Gabriel Martinelli, Joe WIllock and Bukayo Saka may feature
Emery was evasive when asked if Xhaka will play for the club again. He said: ‘The future is Arsenal’s club future with the players we have here and the coaches we have here [in Guimaraes].
‘We need time, he is one of our players and we want to respect and protect him and also continue in our way. At the moment he is not in the group but my decision is as I say to you.’
Xhaka remains popular in the dressing room and has received the public backing of his team-mates.
Bellerin said: ‘As I commented after the night of the [Palace] game sometimes it’s hard to deal with like feelings.
‘He made a mistake but as a dressing room we have to be together. These things happen and that’s it. We back him. He is playing his part now.
‘We respect the players, we respect the decision of the coach and the club. For us it’s just to give him our love and care. He’s one of us so we’re just helping him get through it.’