After a week-and-a-half wait for the inevitable, Granit Xhaka has been stripped of the Arsenal captaincy.
On Sunday the 27th of October, Granita Xhaka made a fatal error when the ill-feeling towards the team and the prevarication over the captaincy boiled over in the Emirates Stadium.
Xhaka was jeered as he was substituted, and reacted to the fans by telling them to ‘f*** off’. The jeers turned to booes, and Xhaka antagonized the fans further, cupping his ear and ambling off the pitch.
Arsenal were robbed of a winning goal by VAR, and drew the game against Crystal Palace 2 – 2, and there was no one else but Granit Xhaka to take the brunt of the disappointment from the fans.
His relationship with the fans was in question before that game. Afterwards, it was damaged beyond repair.
Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang is the new Arsenal captain, and head coach Unai Emery spoke about the situation on Tuesday.
“I was speaking with (Xhaka) this morning and also I decided he’s not one of the captains in our group and I decided that and I told him this morning. He accepted my decision and also I told the captain and other captains my decision, we need to carry on and to focus on tomorrow’s match and Saturday’s match. I needed to take one decision, and now it is closed.”
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As we outline here, the Arsenal captaincy is a poisoned chalice. However, over the last 6 months it has been a particularly toxic cocktail.
It started back in July when then-captain Laurent Koscielny effectively forced a move away against the club’s wishes. Xhaka, a leader in the dressing room, was the obvious, if not the most popular choice to take over.
It took until September 27th for Unai Emery to name Xhaka the new captain. He is perhaps the shortest serving gunners skipper, with a reign of just 39 days. Ultimately, it reflects poorly on Arsenal, who have now had three captains in 78 days.
Xhaka is not included in Arsenal’s Europa League squad to face Vitoria tonight, and it remains to be seen if he can fight his way back into the team. If the team performs well without him, his time at Arsenal may be up.