EPL: Emery strips Xhaka of Arsenal captaincy

Unai Emery has stripped Granit Xhaka off the Arsenal captaincy and handed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the armband.

Although the Spaniard refused to explain his decision, merely stating the issue is “closed”. The move comes in the wake of Xhaka’s outburst with Arsenal supporters against Crystal Palace.

The midfielder was substituted in the 61st minute of that game and then booed as he walked slowly off the field with Arsenal chasing a winning goal, prompting the 27-year-old to shout insult the fans before taking his shirt off and heading down the tunnel.

The Swiss has subsequently apologised to fans for his outburst. He revealed that his anger was fuelled by death threats made against his family on social media.

However, Xhaka was on Wednesday morning stripped of the captaincy and replaced by striker Aubameyang.

Speaking on the issue, Emery said on Tuesday: “He is not today here, but also I think we need time with him and first protect him also to be calm and training with us every day.

“But I spoke with him this morning and also decided he is not one of the captains in our group. I decided that and I told him this morning.

“He accepted my decision. And also I told the other captains the decision. We need to carry on and focus for tomorrow’s match and next Saturday’s match. I needed to make a decision and now it is closed.

“We have now Aubameyang, Hector [Bellerin], [Alex] Lacazette and [Mesut] Ozil. They are the four captains and the first now is Aubameyang.”

The midfielder was voted captain by his peers, but has not played since that match against Crystal Palace and has been left out of the squad to face Vitoria on Wednesday in the Europa League.

Emery on Xhaka’s future

Speaking further, Emery failed to give assurances on Xhaka’s long-term future at Arsenal.

“The future is Arsenal’s club future with the players we are here and the coaches we are here,” he said.

“We have a very important match for us tomorrow in the Europa League and then on Saturday in that way we need to take some decisions about some circumstances that have happened.

“I say to you what is about Xhaka but now is about the match for tomorrow, [that is] only my focus and our focus is tomorrow.

“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.

“Tomorrow’s match is now the focus and the most important. We have a lot of work to do to improve, to take confidence.”

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