Paul Merson has told Sky Sports that he does not expect Arsenal boss Unai Emery to freeze Granit Xhaka out like he appears to have done with Mesut Ozil.
The debate surrounding what happens to Xhaka and the Arsenal captaincy continues following Sunday’s draw with Crystal Palace.
The Swiss reacted badly after being booed off the pitch during the second-half. And it remains to be seen what the future holds for Xhaka, as well as the armband.
The midfielder seemed to already be a divisive character amongst the fans. His suitability for the captaincy had been questioned by many. And some appear to believe that he should not play for the club again.
While he has criticised his actions, Merson has defended Xhaka and suggested that he cannot see the 27-year-old falling as far out of favour as Ozil has done under Emery.
“I’m one of his biggest critics but he does care. I’ve seen some people come off pitches and they don’t care, they fly off and run faster off the pitch than they did during the game,” he told Sky Sports.
“It’s a hard one for the club because Unai Emery rates him, he’s the one player who plays every week so I would have thought Emery will want this to blow over really. I don’t think it will be an Ozil situation where he says ‘that’s it, you’re not playing for the club again’.”
It is going to take a lot for Xhaka to come back from Sunday’s events. But perhaps, it is not out of the question for the incident to act as a catalyst for a dramatic turnaround.
If Xhaka has got the character of a captain, he will be determined to prove his critics wrong and win the fans back around.
It is clearly going to be a massive moment in Xhaka’s Arsenal career, whatever happens from here. But perhaps there is still an outside chance that it could now inspire the most positive chapter of his Gunners career.