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Unai Emery has cast doubt on Granit Xhaka’s future as Arsenal captain after the player’s controversial substitution in the club’s eventful 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace.
The Swiss international appeared to be jeered off by supporters for his slow departure following his 60th minute withdrawal, and responded by cupping his ear, swearing and taking off his shirt before storming down the tunnel.
“He was wrong,” Emery said after the match. “Now we need to stay calm and speak with him, to speak inside about that reaction.”
“His reaction was wrong in that moment. We will speak with the players and the club about this reaction.”
During the incident, Xhaka also appeared to throw the captain’s armband and Emery refused to confirm whether the player will continue in the role.
“It's not the moment to speak about that. First, I want to speak with him and the club, and we want to stay calm before we speak about that.”
In a farcical afternoon at the Emirates, early goals from Sokratis and David Luiz fired the Gunners into a 2-0 lead before a Luka Milivojević penalty and Jordan Ayew’s second-half strike drew the Eagles level.
Xhaka’s withdrawal was greeted by sarcastic cheering from a section of the home support before his reluctance to leave the pitch incensed the fans who responded with boos before the player reacted.
Having been named captain by Emery earlier this season, Arsenal and Xhaka’s indifferent form has led to frustration and criticism, culminating in the ugly scenes in North London this weekend.
Lucas Torriera, who was an unused substitute, was apparently moved to tears by the hostile crowd reaction and needed to be consoled by teammate Hector Bellerin.
The Uruguayan midfielder has struggled to hold down a place in the Arsenal team this season leading to rumours that the player is unsettled in England despite his popularity with supporters.
Following his emotional reaction, more doubt is set to be cast on his future in red and white.
Arsenal then had a would-be winner from unlikely hero Sokratis before VAR controversially ruled that a foul had been committed beforehand.
The Greek defender’s 83rd-minute strike looked to have given his side a late lead a possibly the three points on a difficult day.
However, after the goal was reviewed by VAR, former A-League referee Jarred Gillett told on-pitch referee Martin Atkinson to overturn the decision after suggesting that Callum Chambers had pushed a Palace player as the ball bounced around the area from an Arsenal corner.
Home supporters also chanted for Mesut Ozil seemingly as a pointed suggestion to Emery who continues to leave the World Cup winner out of the team.
Ozil, who reportedly commands a staggering £350,000 per week, has featured just once in the Premier League for the Gunners this season and given the team’s struggles creatively so far this campaign, fans chose to vocalise their frustration at the German’s continued exclusion.
Emery however, who has also come under increasing pressure following Arsenal’s poor recent run, refused to criticise the fans and praised them for their support during the game.
“This evening, after each moment the connection with the team was amazing,” The Spaniard said. “After 2-2, the last 20 minutes the supporters were amazing at getting behind the players and pushing for victory.
“The connection this evening was very good. Then there was one small individual circumstance, but overall they support us.”
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