Granit Xhaka has been offered counselling by the club to help him cope with the criticism after he clashed with Arsenal’s fans on Sunday.
Subbed off in the second half of their 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace (Arsenal had led 2-0 early on), Xhaka was booed and jeered by Arsenal’s fans. The club captain then threw his armband to the ground, put his hands to his ears, told the supporter to “f*** off” and took off his shirt before storming straight down the tunnel.
Xhaka, 27, has been left devastated by the incident as Arsenal’s players have been rallying around him and spending time with him at his home.
“He is upset, devastated and very sad,” Arsenal’s manager Unai Emery said. “It is not only yesterday and today. He is feeling the supporters don’t like him.”
Xhaka has yet to publicly apologize for his actions and has since removed ‘Arsenal captain’ from his Instagram profile, instead just keeping that he is captain of Switzerland.
No decision has been made on whether or not he will be stripped of the captaincy, while Emery acknowledge that Xhaka was wrong to react in the way that he did and he will be fined in due course.
Arsenal’s fanbase have been a frustrated bunch for quite some time and last season it was Shkodran Mustafi who became the scapegoat. Now it’s Xhaka’s turn and although his actions were incorrect, you can understand his frustration at being singled out.
Look, Xhaka hasn’t been great since joining from Borussia Monchengladbach for $45 million in the summer of 2017. He’s made huge errors, picked up silly red cards and after being touted as the holding midfielder Arsenal have been missing for a generation, he hasn’t delivered.
But he shouldn’t be made the scapegoat here. You can go through this entire Arsenal side and picked out individuals, especially in midfield and defense, who aren’t playing well enough.
Xhaka was voted as Arsenal’s captain by the players this summer and he is their representative in the public eye. When things are going badly for the team he will have to take a larger share of the blame and he didn’t handle that well on Sunday.
Was it fair? No. Is the abuse part of the society we live in? Unfortunately, yes.