Granit Xhaka returned to the pitch in a losing effort, but his positive day gave Arsenal a glimmer of hope.
The Swiss midfielder played for the first time in five matches, a span that began when he swore at Arsenal fans who were booing him off the pitch in a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.
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He received applause from the Gunners faithful in Thursday’s 2-1 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt in Europa League play, but more importantly he was perhaps the side’s best player on the day (Bukayo Saka was also strong).
“Xhaka wanted to continue playing,” said Unai Emery, who credited the fans for their support of Xhaka. “His match today was good and he helped the team.”
That may not help Emery, whose Gunners looked inspired for large portions of the loss and lost David Luiz and Shkrodan Mustafi to injury.
“We are better than we are showing,” Emery said. “The response from the players in the first half was good but the injuries was important because we needed fresh players and we couldn’t do that.”
Emery claimed his focus is not on his job status, but finding an end to the win streak when Arsenal visits Norwich City. The Gunners then host Brighton before going to West Ham and Standard Liege.