The ex-Gunners defender explains why the Swiss midfielder has been the wrong choice as captain and should be replaced in the role by Aubameyang
Unai Emery has been partly responsible for Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka’s foul-mouthed tantrum at the weekend, according to former Gunners defender Martin Keown.
The midfielder threw his arms in the air and cupped his ears before pulling off his shirt after being substituted during Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace in the Premier League to the jeers of the crowd.
He was also seen to tell the fans to ‘f*ck off’ and has since faced a storm of criticism amid calls for him to be stripped of the captaincy, but Keown believes Emery must take his share of the blame.
“Sunday was not the first time Granit Xhaka has been jeered by his own fans,” explained Keown to the Daily Mail.
“It happened on September 22, too, when Aston Villa visited. Villa were leading 2-1 at the time and Xhaka was substituted to a chorus of boos.
“Arsenal, despite being down to 10 men, went on to win 3-2 without the midfielder.
“Then five days later, Unai Emery named Xhaka as captain anyway.”
Keown also hit out at Emery’s method of letting the players at the club chose their own captain for the season.
“Emery has been as much to blame as anyone. If you let the players pick their skipper, then it becomes a popularity contest and that has been not what leadership has been about.
“I’ve never had a manager who decided the captaincy that way and, for me, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been still the safer bet.”
Xhaka has been yet to speak out on the ugly scenes that unfolded but Hector Bellerin has taken to social media to offer his support.
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The Arsenal vice-captain said: “We are all humans, we all have emotions, and sometimes it’s not easy dealing with them. It’s time to lift each other up, not to push each other away. We only win when we are together.”
Emery and Xhaka spoke about the matter on Monday, with the Gunners boss set to talk publicly about the situation on Tuesday ahead of the Carabao Cup clash against Liverpool.
Xhaka was likely to have been rested at Anfield even before Sunday’s events but the Arsenal boss must decide whether to include the midfielder at home to Wolves on Saturday.