Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown has laid the blame at Unai Emery’s door for the situation surrounding his captain Granit Xhaka.
In the Daily Mail, Keown said that Emery should never have allowed his squad to elect their captain democratically, meaning he has a mess of his own making.
He said: “Sunday was not the first time Granit Xhaka has been jeered by his own fans. It happened on September 22, when Aston Villa were leading 2-1 and Xhaka was substituted to a chorus of boos. Arsenal, despite being down to 10 men, went on to win 3-2 without the midfielder.
“Five days later, Unai Emery named Xhaka as captain anyway. Emery is as much to blame as anyone. If you let the players pick their skipper, then it becomes a popularity contest and that is not what leadership is about. I’ve never had a manager who decided the captaincy that way and, for me, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is still the safer bet.”
TBR’s View – Aubameyang should be handed the armband if Emery takes it from Xhaka
What does Emery do now? Xhaka was voted the most suitable captain by his team-mates and likely remains popular in the dressing room.
But he may also feel under pressure to make a change to appease the fans or send a message that the way Xhaka has behaved is not acceptable.
If he does make a change – which he should, and also start the process of Xhaka leaving the club – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is one of few automatic selections in the squad and should be handed the armband.