Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka was visited at home by three senior Arsenal players after he was booed by his own team’s supporters when he was substituted in the 2-2 draw at home to Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Some supporters cheered when it was announced that Xhaka, who has struggled for consistency during his time at the club, was to be replaced by Bukayo Saka in the 61st minute.
Fans expressed frustration at Xhaka taking a long time to leave the pitch, with boos ringing out across the stadium, and the Swiss midfielder responded by cupping his hand to his ear, while he also appeared to tell supporters to ‘f*** off’ before storming down the tunnel.
As reported by The Athletic, Xhaka’s team-mates were concerned about him following the incident, with three of them visiting his house. Lucas Torreira, who was warming up when the incident occurred, was moved to tears and had to be consoled by Hector Bellerin.
Torreira turned to the crowd and asked why they had acted in such a way. Xhaka was only officially confirmed as Arsenal’s club captain just over a month ago, but there have been suggestions that the the 27-year-old could now be stripped of the armband.
When directly asked in his press conference whether Xhaka would remain captain, Arsenal head coach Unai Emery replied: ‘It’s not the moment to speak about that because first I want to speak with him and the club. ‘We need to stay calm but, really, he was wrong.’
Emery insisted that Xhaka should have dealt with the situation in a better manner. ‘We are working, me and the club to manage playing under pressure, when under pressure to have our minds clear,’ said the Arsenal boss.
‘In a difficult moment our heart can be hot, but our minds can be clever. We are going to speak about that because the reaction was wrong. ‘We are going to speak (about that) inside, with the players and the club. ‘We are here because we have supporters.
We are the workers inside the club but we play for them. ‘We need to have a lot of respect for them when they are applauding us but also when they are criticising us.’ Arsenal legend Ian Wright was quick to criticise the club’s skipper after his relationship with the fans plummeted to new lows.
Wright insisted the Switzerland international must apologise immediately for his outburst.
‘I don’t like any players getting booed,’ Wright said on Match of the Day. ‘But this is the captain. Now I think that they’re frustrated with the fact that he’s not run off. ‘He’s now goading them. We’re talking about fans that have watched him in the four years he’s been there have a handful of good games and he’s treating the fans like that.
Moments after the final whistle in north London, Alexandre Lacazette got himself embroiled in the drama after liking an explicit Instagram post calling for Emery to be sacked and slamming Xhaka for his actions. ‘Troopz’, who is known for his appearances on Youtube channel AFTV, slammed on Instagram: ‘I’m sorry, I’m done with this now.
You can’t be 2-0 up at home to Palace and draw. ‘Emery I’ve back you but bro, enough is enough. Xhaka can f*** himself as well. Never wanna see him in an Arsenal top again!!’ The French striker, who just returned from an ankle injury, has since appeared to have unliked the social media post.
Bellerin, who many Arsenal fans hoped may get the captain’s armband instead of Xhaka, called for unity as he became the first player to speak out following the dramatic events in north London.
Bellerin, making reference to the Xhaka incident, 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.’
After conceding a two-goal lead, the mood inside the Emirates became fractious on the weekend and many fans also voiced their support for out-of-favour Mesut Ozil.
The German playmaker, the Gunners’ most creative player, has been frozen out by Emery so far this season and supporters made their feelings clear by singing the popular ‘We’ve got Ozil’ chant in the stands.
There were boos at the final whistle inside the Emirates as Arsenal dropped even more points in the Premier League.
Despite an encouraging and hopeful summer transfer window, the club currently sit four points off fourth-place as they desperately seek a way back into the Champions League after three years out of the competition.
Emery has come under intense scrutiny in recent times and if performances fail to pick up in north London, then his position would come under huge threat.