Michael Owen has defended Arsenal skipper Granit Xhaka on Twitter after the midfielder reacted angrily to a chorus of boos from Arsenal supporters when substituted during Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace.
Xhaka, 27, was named Arsenal captain this season after the sale of Laurent Koscielny. However, he has been criticised heavily by Arsenal fans prior to his appointment – and the level of his displays have hardly improved since wearing the armband.
During Sunday’s 2-2 draw, Arsenal fans were frustrated after their side had let another two-goal lead slip against Palace. Xhaka was replaced on 61 minutes, with Bukayo Saka coming in for the Switzerland international.
He cupped his ear and appeared to swear in reaction to jeers and boos from fans, before taking his shirt off and walking straight down the Emirates tunnel. He has since been criticised heavily, but England icon Owen has defended him on Twitter.
About time somebody went against the grain.
Is Xhaka a great player? No.
Should he react like that? No.
But if 60,000 fans boo you off? Where’s the unity?
Expect him to die for the shirt one minute then walk off to a cauldron of hatred the next?#DoubleStandards https://t.co/BfLqJ7Nowh
— michael owen (@themichaelowen) October 28, 2019
TBR’s view – Xhaka was wrong, but Owen does have a point
As captain of one of England’s biggest sides, Xhaka should be able to handle criticism and even though booing from your own fans is difficult to handle – he needs to be able to do so. It is in the remit of being a captain.
A lack of form – as a team, and as a player – will see the captain criticised first. But for supporters and pundits to expect Xhaka to leave the pitch with a smile on his face amid the booing is a delusional train of thought.
His reaction could have been a lot worse. As Owen says, how can you expect a player to die for the shirt but get booed by the fans? Xhaka’s reaction should have been in the changing room, but at least he is showing passion.