Unai Emery is worried that he could face a ‘backlash’ if he strips Granit Xhaka of the captain’s armband at Arsenal, according to reports.
The 27-year-old told Gunners’ supporters to “f*** off” as they reacted to his substitution during Sunday’s 2-2 Premier League draw at home to Crystal Palace.
Arsenal had flown out of the blocks and were two goals ahead inside 10 minutes as defenders Sokratis Papastathopoulos and David Luiz struck 106 seconds apart.
However, Palace would leave the Emirates Stadium with a point as Luka Milivojevic converted a penalty awarded by the video assistant referee after Wilfried Zaha had initially been booked for diving, with Jordan Ayew’s second-half header pegging Arsenal back.
But the talking point came after 61 minutes as Xhaka, a decisive figure among Arsenal supporters was substituted for Bukayo Saka.
Xhaka‘s withdrawal was initially greeted by large cheers, which soon turned to jeers as he took his time to leave the pitch despite the score being level.
He reacted by waving his arms, cupping his ears and mouthing expletives as he pushed away a handshake from Emery, took off his shirt and headed straight down the tunnel.
And now The Sun claims that Emery ‘fears a dressing-room revolt’ if he strips the Switzerland international of the captaincy.
Xhaka has so far refused to issue an apology over the incident at Palace despite Arsenal’s attempts to ‘persuade their skipper’.
Emery ‘plans’ to take the armband away from Xhaka but The Sun says he is ‘facing an angry backlash from his squad’.
The report added: ‘A number of senior Arsenal players are appalled at the brutal treatment which Xhaka has received from the club’s fickle supporters.’