Emery urges Xhaka to follow Bellerin example and bounce back from supporter 'struggles'

Omnisport
Arsenal have not won a match during Granit Xhaka's first-team exile and the Switzerland midfielder is back to face Eintracht Frankfurt.
Arsenal have not won a match during Granit Xhaka's first-team exile and the Switzerland midfielder is back to face Eintracht Frankfurt.

Arsenal boss Unai Emery has urged Granit Xhaka to learn from Hector Bellerin's example in his battle to win back the support of the club's fans.

Midfielder Xhaka could be in line to make his first club appearance in four weeks when the Gunners host Southampton at Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

The Switzerland international has not featured for Emery since he was stripped of the captaincy in the wake of his angry outburst towards supporters as he was substituted in the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace on October 27.

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Emery is desperate for the squad as a whole to rebuild a positive relationship with fans who have become disenchanted by a run of just one win in seven matches in all competitions.

Xhaka admitted his clash with fans was partly due to appalling messages he has been sent on social media and Emery says full-back Bellerin has also spoken to him of a difficulty coping with some supporter criticism.

Now, Emery wants Xhaka to follow his team-mate by winning back the support of the crowd through application in training and, at the right time, positive performances.

"The most important thing is to achieve the individual performance through the team. If we can connect with our supporters, we can show at home good quality, individually, we are going to do better," Emery said on Thursday.

"In this situation, it's better to do it with him on the pitch. But I'm going to do it giving him a good feeling with us, training, playing – it could be at home or it could be away. But, for me, the most important thing is to improve the performance collectively and then help individuals to feel better and be efficient when they are playing.

"It's not only with Xhaka. It's a special circumstance but it's also with other players. They need to achieve confidence to give the best performance individually.

"He told me this morning he's very convinced to help the team, every training. Then, I decide with him when he starts to play in the matches. The first is Saturday. I am going to decide if it's a good moment or if we need more time, helping him through the team.

"We have here, for example, with Hector Bellerin. He told me two weeks ago he struggled here with the supporters sometimes when his performance wasn't the best, sometimes playing with the team at the Emirates or away. We have some other players where this situation has happened. And they come back. With Xhaka, I want to do the same.

"Don't forget his mistake, but he is coming back. I took the captaincy off him as I felt it was better not to have that responsibility. Then it's playing, helping us, playing and above all defending the Arsenal team.

"He can come back showing his commitment, his good behaviour, his good performance and helping and defending Arsenal. He's a good guy. He's a good player. He loves and respects Arsenal a lot. Now, he's feeling better, and he's feeling he can come back helping us, connecting with the team and connecting with the supporters. Above all, we need confidence in all and to take a good performance and good connection with our supporters."

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