Emery refuses to defend Xhaka after Palace strop

Arsenal
Arsenal head coach Unai Emery refused to defend Granit Xhaka after his captain swore at fans after being substituted against Crystal Palace.

Arsenal head coach Unai Emery refused to defend Granit Xhaka after his captain swore at fans after being substituted against Crystal Palace.

The Gunners had flown out of the blocks and were two goals ahead inside 10 minutes, only for Palace to fight back and earn a 2-2 draw, to pile more pressure on the under-fire Emery.

But the talking point came after 61 minutes as Xhaka – a decisive figure among Arsenal supporters – was substituted for Bukayo Saka.

Xhaka’s withdrawal was initially greeted by large cheers, which soon turned to jeers as he took his time to leave the pitch despite the score being level.

He reacted by waving his arms, cupping his ears and seemingly mouth “f*** off” twice as he pushed away a handshake from Emery, took off his shirt and headed straight down the tunnel.

A thrilling draw may have ensued but it was Xhaka’s antics which will now dominate the coming days and Emery, who has backed the 27-year-old amid growing criticism, admitted the Switzerland midfielder acted incorrectly and refused to confirm if he would retain the captaincy.

“He was wrong, He was wrong,” Emery said when asked about the situation. “Now we need to stay calm and speak with him, to speak inside about that reaction. His reaction was wrong in that moment.

“We are here because we have supporters. We are the workers inside, but we play for them. We need to have a lot of respect from them, through applause and criticism.

“It’s not the moment to speak about that (if Xhaka will stay as captain). First, I want to speak with him and the club, and we want to stay calm before we speak about that. He was not right to do that.”

The bust up with Xhaka is the last thing that Emery needs as it adds to the growing tension that seems to be surrounding the club at the moment.

Relations are already strained with Mesut Ozil, and Emery now also faces a tough situation with his skipper.

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