Granit Xhaka stripped of Arsenal captaincy, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang new skipper

After an outburst towards his own fans, Arsenal's Granit Xhaka will no longer be the club's captain.

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka will no longer lead the Gunners.   -  Getty Images

Granit Xhaka has been stripped of the Arsenal captaincy following his angry confrontation with fans.

Switzerland midfielder Xhaka reacted to ironic cheers and then jeers when he was substituted against Crystal Palace last month, appearing to shout expletives in the direction of the supporters before sarcastically applauding. He then removed his shirt while leaving the field and headed straight down the tunnel.

The 27-year-old, who has not played for Arsenal since and is not in the Gunners' squad for Wednesday's Europa League clash with Vitoria SC, had been named his club's captain in September following a player vote.

However, head coach Unai Emery has confirmed Xhaka will no longer captain Arsenal and striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will take the armband instead.

"I have spoken to Granit and he is no longer one of the captains in the group," Emery said at a news conference to preview Wednesday's game.

Emery said Arsenal need "to be calm" when considering Xhaka's future at the club and, when asked if the midfielder would play for them again, he deflected the question.

"The future is Arsenal's future. We have a very important match on Saturday [at Leicester City]," he said.

"We need to take some decisions... my focus is for tomorrow [against Vitoria SC]. He is our player, we want to respect him."

 

Emery had previously been critical of Xhaka, insisting he "was wrong" and that the club's supporters had to be treated with respect.

"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," he said in the aftermath of the Palace match.

Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin claimed the Gunners' squad would rally behind Xhaka following the decision.

"Sometimes it's hard to deal with feelings," he said.

"He made a mistake. As a dressing room, we have to be together. We back him. He has played his part.

"We respect the decision of the coach and the club. For us, it's to give him our love and care."

Bellerin also opened up on a conversation he had with Xhaka in the aftermath.

"I said to Granit, 'This is like in every walk of life. One day, you're at the top and another you're at a low'. When these things happen to you personally, you can have a whole squad that back you," he added.

Further comments on the issue are unlikely, with Emery adding: "It's clear. There's no more words about that."

Xhaka joined Arsenal from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2016 and has made over 100 Premier League appearances for the club, scoring seven goals.

Arsenal has won just one of its past five matches in all competitions and sits fifth in the Premier League table, but it does top Group F in the Europa League with three wins from three.

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