Xhaka 'devastated' by Arsenal situation as Emery avoids captaincy issue
Granit Xhaka is "devastated" to find himself in the eye of a storm but Arsenal will not make a snap decision on whether he remains captain, manager Unai Emery has said.
Emery held talks with Xhaka on Sunday evening, on Monday and again on Tuesday after his petulant reaction to equally unseemly chiding from home supporters at Emirates Stadium during the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.
The Switzerland international has struggled to assert himself as a leader of the team, and his response on Sunday to the fans’ baiting saw Gunners greats Nigel Winterburn and Emmanuel Petit call for him to lose the armband.
Xhaka was appointed captain in September after a dressing-room vote, taking on the role vacated by Laurent Koscielny who joined Bordeaux in the close season.
When substituted during the second half of the Palace match, he cupped an ear to supporters, appeared to swear towards them, and pulled off his shirt before heading straight down the tunnel.
"He is now devastated, sad," Emery said. "We spoke yesterday, on Sunday night we also spoke... and this morning."
Emery said Xhaka should apologise for his lapse of composure.
"Yes," Emery said. "When we make individually some mistakes we need to make apologies for one circumstance. I prefer to do that and we suggest he does. He's devastated and down and we need to recover him."
Speaking at a news conference ahead of Wednesday's EFL Cup trip to Liverpool, Emery said: "We need our family, our friends, our supporters, to support us, like us, everybody, and he’s not feeling that."
Asked whether Xhaka would lose the captaincy, Emery avoided giving any guarantee over that status.
"I explained why I decided that [he would be captain] and he has values, he has respect in the dressing room, he has experience," Emery said.
"He’s captain of his national team. He has the condition to be the captain. He was wrong on Sunday, [it] was not the response of a captain."
Pressed on whether Xhaka was still the captain, as the situation stands, Emery said: "We need to go step by step. First recover him as a human and as a player and then we are going to continue speaking about how we can improve.
"We’ll speak with the team, with him, and everybody. At the moment I am not speaking and I don't want to speak about that [captaincy issue]."
Xhaka will not travel to Anfield but Emery stressed he had always planned to change up his team for the game on Merseyside.
Several other first-team regulars will also miss out, including David Luiz and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, while Mesut Ozil comes in from the cold after being recently sidelined.