There was a heated atmosphere at the Emirates Stadium in Arsenal’s match against Crystal Palace in October. Former club captain Granit Xhaka swore at supporters as he left the field to be substituted, so upset was he with the whistles and boos emanating from the crowd as he trudged off. Arsenal fans were furious at Xhaka for taking so long to leave the field when the home side were searching for a winning goal.
In a match where Arsenal had surrendered a two-goal lead, it is understandable that Xhaka’s emotions would have been running high, but his stroppy reaction was not the behaviour you would expect from any player. Irrespective of whether or not supporters should jeer their own player, the nature of the job requires professionalism with cameras watching every step.
Boss Unai Emery was not happy with Xhaka after the match, and promised that action would be taken “We are going to speak with him,” he said. “In one moment he was very hot. His reaction was wrong. Now we need to stay calm and speak to him inside the club about that reaction.”
The result of which is that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has recently been appointed as captain. Emery said: “I had a meeting with him and told him he is no longer in the captain’s group.
“He accepted my decision. We need to carry on. I needed to take a decision and now it’s closed.”
However, with the 27-year-old’s three years at the club so far, some would say his outburst was to be expected. His early days in North London were marked by midfield ill-discipline and red cards – he was sent off twice in his first season at the club. He has always been a player who has worn his heart on his sleeve, and while such passion is an important part of the game, knowing how to control it and channel it in the right ways is key, especially as captain. This is where Xhaka failed against Crystal Palace.
To look around the Arsenal squad is to see a lack of true leaders. The club have had some wonderful captains in the past – whether it’s the hard-as-nails characters like Tony Adams and Patrick Vieira, or the silky smooth Thierry Henry, these are legends of the club who led by example and conducted themselves in a proper manner on and off the pitch. Going forward, hopefully Aubameyang can meet the expectations of a captain.
The team need members of the squad who realise what it means to represent Arsenal, one of the biggest clubs in the world. Turning against your own supporters is inexcusable, even if you feel harshly treated. If Arsenal are to return to top form, and be taken more seriously in football betting odds from Betfair, then these in-house issues need to be addressed.
It’s difficult to restore the adulation of supporters after such a display of histrionics, but not impossible. The removal of Xhaka as captain is just the tip of the iceberg with the Swiss being left out of the squad since the incident. Let’s hope under their new captain, Arsenal can regain some control and push forward in both the domestic and European tournaments.