Unai Emery will hold talks with the Arsenal hierarchy before deciding whether Granit Xhaka will remain as club captain, after the Swiss international ripped off the armband, throwing it to the turf, and appeared to tell supporters to ‘f*** off’ as he was substituted.
Xhaka’s fractious relationship with Gunners fans plummeted to new depths yesterday after he responded angrily to criticism from the home crowd during the draw with Crystal Palace.
When asked whether Xhaka would remain captain, Emery said: ‘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.’
Xhaka was already unpopular among a significant contingent of fans. Yesterday’s clash, in which he infuriated supporters with a series of angry gestures, did nothing to improve the relationship.
Emery refused to criticise those Arsenal fans who applauded their skipper sarcastically or booed him. Instead, he suggested Xhaka should have dealt with the situation with a cooler head. ‘We are working, me and the club, to manage playing under pressure, when under pressure to have our minds clear.
‘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.’
Emery said that the discussions would be ‘inside, with the players and the club’.
He said: ‘We are here because we have supporters. We are the workers inside the club but we play for them. We need to have respect for them when they are applauding us, but also when they are criticising.’
Emery was also critical of the VAR decision to disallow what would have been a late winner for the Gunners.
Sokratis’s goal was ruled out because of a foul by Calum Chambers on Luka Milivojevic. Emery said: ‘Our goal, the third goal, he is not fouled. That is not a foul. Who is the person who checked that? If the referee watched that action on the TV, I am sure he would not decide that it was a foul.
‘In the office with the TV, I don’t know who the person is who decides this. We lost two points to that tonight. We have cameras on the pitch, but here I don’t remember a single referee going to check on the touchline.’
Palace boss Roy Hodgson also had a show of indiscipline from a player. Jordan Ayew was furious when replaced by Christian Benteke in the closing stages.
‘Players don’t like coming off,’ Hodgson said. ‘But often afterwards, after they have settled down they feel it was the right decision. I thought the fresh legs was a good idea, and I’m sure if you asked Jordan he would agree with you.
‘If he was upset, I don’t hold that against him. I’m really quite pleased. I don’t want them to be happy about coming off.’