Arsenal manager Unai Emery told reporters ahead of a midweek trip to Anfield that “devastated” club captain Granit Xhaka should apologize following incidents during Sunday’s draw with Crystal Palace.
The Swiss international tossed the captain’s armband and twice shouted “F— off” amid jeers from supporters while coming off at the hour mark. Xhaka then removed his shirt and headed directly down the tunnel.
“I think when we make individual mistakes, we need to make apologies for the circumstances. I prefer to do that. We suggest to him to do it,” Emery said, according to Arsenal.com.
He added, “We need to also be strong and to know and to learn to play under that pressure. It’s our work, it’s our job, and the supporters, they are the most important in our life. Because if there aren’t supporters, there aren’t fans, and … there is no reason to play professional football without our fans.”
According to the Evening Standard’s James Olley, Xhaka will not be in the squad for the fourth-round League Cup clash against Liverpool on Wednesday, but Emery said that was part of a previously planned rotation.
Xhaka’s omission isn’t the only first-team change of note.
The embattled Emery – who, like Xhaka, has become a lightning rod for derision amid a dire run of six wins in Arsenal’s last 17 league outings – exiled star playmaker Mesut Ozil because “other players deserved it more.”
Fans sung the German’s name during the latter stages of Sunday’s disaster at the Emirates, and on Tuesday, Emery changed his tune.
“We need his quality, his skill, and his consistency. We need his positive mentality and then he will help us on the pitch,” Emery said about the World Cup winner on reported £350,000-a-week wages.
Emery was asked if Ozil, who hasn’t played since a 5-0 win over Nottingham Forest in the League Cup on Sept. 24, might even sport the captain’s armband in Xhaka’s absence.
“It depends on who else plays. He could be, yes,” Emery confessed.