EPL: Sokratis plays down importance of Arsenal captaincy after Xhaka removal

Arsenal defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos says it does not matter who the club captain following the removal of Granit Xhaka.

Gunners head coach Unai Emery opted to relieve Xhaka of his duties after the Switzerland midfielder insulted supporters as they jeered him following his substitution in a recent draw with Crystal Palace.

The club initially rallied around their skipper. Emery insisted Arsenal would offer counselling and other support mechanisms as he said Xhaka was “devastated, sad and very down”. Xhaka then offered an apology to the fans. The Swiss claimed social media abuse aimed at his wife and baby had played a significant part in his outburst.

Emery then announced on Tuesday that he had taken the decision to remove the 27-year-old from the role. The manager allowed his squad to participate in a blind ballot to elect Xhaka in the first place.

With Emery installing a five-man leadership group, the second most popular selection amongst his team-mates, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, will now become the de facto captain.

But Sokratis feels it is up to everyone within the team to lead on the pitch as Arsenal look to end a mini-slump which has seen them allow a lead to slip in their last four matches and win only one of their last six.

“For me, it’s more important that Auba first has to score, he has to do his work,” said the centre-back.

“The captaincy or who has this [signals to armband] in the pitch, I don’t think it’s very important.

“It’s important that all the team is good in the dressing room. We are like a family. At the end, who brings the captaincy to the pitch is the last thing.

“I said something, who has the captaincy is not very important.”

After a disappointing Europa League draw on Wednesday, Arsenal return to Premier League action at the weekend looking to improve on a record of two wins from their last nine games.

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