By David Clarke
Arsenal are in turmoil following captain Granit Xhaka’s confrontation with fans at the Emirates Stadium following a below-par performance against another London side in Crystal Palace.
The Gunners were tipped by most football experts to collect three points at home to The Eagles, but they made heavy weather of what should have been a comfortable game. Papastathopoulos broke the deadlock with a goal inside seven minutes before David Luiz added a second just 106 seconds later. Home fans expected the floodgates to open with their side building on that cushion, but things rarely go to plan in North London.
Arsenal left shocked by fightback
Milivojevic made things uncomfortable, silencing the majority of those inside the stadium when scoring a penalty on 32 minutes and then everyone connected to Arsenal were left shocked and stunned when Ayew drew the sides level within seven minutes of the second half getting underway. What started as a dream scenario and enjoyable day out in the biting Autumn cold quickly turned into a nightmare that didn’t look out of place on the approach to Halloween.
As supporters rained down fury onto the field, they picked out captain Granit Xhaka as a man deserving of extra attention. They blamed their captain in more ways than one and made it known. Premier League football stars are used to being on the receiving end of abuse from the stands from time to time but they are not robots and sometimes react. It seemed to make it worse for Granit Xhaka that the comments were coming from followers of his own team.
Granit Xhaka didn’t react well
How did he react? Well, not very well is the answer. The 27-year-old Swiss born midfielder showed a lack of professionalism when responding to the taunts of those sat at pitch side and, needless to say, that didn’t go down well with anyone, let alone the media.
Xhaka has always been a contentious choice as club captain and it remains to be seen if he’ll survive this latest knock. He didn’t win any new friends by angrily waving his hands in the direction of Arsenal supporters before cupping his ears and listening to the boos and jeers that were coming his way. The player then removed his shirt and marched down the tunnel to the safety of the dressing rooms where he had the time to settle down.
Arsenal confirmed earlier this week they have provided counselling to Granit Xhaka in the wake of the weekend’s agony with manager Unai Emery telling members of the sporting press he is upset, devastated and very sad about what went on.
Could Xhaka lose his captaincy?
Gossip columns suggest the manager is about to replace his captain and that has paved the way for a list of names better suited to the position, according to fans, ex-players and journalists. One man who came out of those ugly scenes with a bit of credit was Hector Bellerin and that helped shove his name up the pecking order. Bellerin tweeted that we are all humans, we all have emotions, and sometimes it’s not easy dealing with them. That frank and honest assessment was well received by Arsenal fans as well as supporters of other clubs.
Another silent leader in the dressing room is Aubameyang – known for his bond with younger players, which the current gunner’s roster is certainly not lacking of in terms of spots and playing time.
The Granit Xhaka embarrassment was just the latest ordeal that has lead to some suggesting the Arsenal captaincy now carries a curse and not all players would be happy to replace their current leader. William Gallas ended up a bit of a hate figure, Cesc Fabregas seemed desperate to push through a move to Barcelona and Robin Van Persie had his head turned by the Manchester clubs.
Go in over his head
Perhaps the way forward could be to go in over Granit Xhaka’s head and attempt to appoint a coach that understands what Arsenal is about and can help bring some much-needed peace to the dressing room. Such an appointment would also help take the heat off the players and have the media talking about something else.
If former star Arteta could be persuaded to return that would be seen as one of the club’s best signings of the year, although the board would have their work cut out in making that happen. Another option are more known former stars Henry and Vieira which seems less likely according to the main betting sites It seems the best way forward is to release Granit from the pressures of being club captain in what’s sure to be a tough season.
- Arsenal have benefitted by the world cup break: allegedly.
- Arsenal and Tottenham: which has had the easier ride so far this season?
- Arsenal v Tottenham: not exactly a battle of equals.
- Death by 300,000 passes: how the Arsenal transformation started 2 seasons ago.
- Approaching derby day we recall when Arsenal helped Tottenham get into the league