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Emery: ‘Xhaka wrong to clash with fans’

Gunners skipper booed by own supporters as Arsenal surrender two-goal lead against Palace

27 October, 2019 — By Steve Barnett

Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka

Premier League

ARSENAL 2 (Sokratis 7, Luiz 9)
CRYSTAL PALACE 2 (Milivojevic PEN 32, Ayew 52)

ARSENAL boss Unai Emery refused to rule out changing his club captain after Granit Xhaka appeared to swear at the Emirates crowd when he was booed off against Crystal Palace this afternoon (Sunday).

It looked like VAR was going to be the main talking point as Palace fought back from two goals down to secure a 2-2 draw against the Gunners.

That all changed on the hour mark, however, when Xhaka was cheered off the pitch by some of the home supporters after being substituted for Bukayo Saka.

The skipper responded by waving his arms at the crowd, cupping his ears towards them and, according to some reports, seemingly mouthing an obscenity.

He then rejected a handshake from Emery as he took off his shirt and stormed down the tunnel. Asked if Xhaka would remain captain, Emery said: “Now is not the time to talk about that.

“He was wrong (to react to the fans). We need to stay calm and I will speak to him internally about that. He was not right to do that. We are working with the club and the players to play under pressure.

“We are going to speak with him because the reaction was wrong. We are here because we have supporters. We work for them and need to have respect for them when they are applauding us and criticising us.”

Arsenal fans had plenty to cheer early on after seeing their side make a blistering start against London rivals Palace.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos and David Luiz both found the back of the net in the opening 10 minutes, igniting hopes that the Gunners were going to go on a goal-rampage similar to the one Leicester supporters had seen on Friday when they beat Southampton 9-0.

Instead, Halloween arrived early as Arsenal threw away two points after their inability to kill off games again came back to haunt them.

Palace pulled a goal back on the half hour mark when Luka Milivojevic scored from the spot following a VAR intervention after referee Martin Atkinson had initially booked Wilfried Zaha for diving after a tangle with Calum Chambers.

And the visitors were level seven minutes after the break when Jordan Ayew headed in James McArthur’s cross at the far post.

Arsenal’s miserable afternoon went from bad to worse in the 83rd minute. They thought they had won the game when Sokratis struck his second, but they were denied by VAR, who adjudged Chambers to have fouled Milivojevic in the build-up.

“VAR is positive but at the moment it is not working well,” said Emery. “I think the team deserved to win this evening.

“We played with speed when they equalised. I can only be a little bit disappointed that we didn’t control the match better at 2-0, to make sure that we could get a good result.”

ARSENAL: Leno, Chambers, Sokratis, Luiz, Tierney (Kolasinac, 75), Xhaka (Saka, 61), Guendouzi, Ceballos, Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang.

Substitutes not used: Martinez, Bellerin, Holding, Torreira, Martinelli.

CRYSTAL PALACE: Hennessey, Ward, Tomkins, Cahill, Van Aanholt, Milivojevic, Kouyate (McCarthy, 90+4), McArthur, Townsend, Ayew (Benteke, 81), Zaha.

Substitutes not used: Henderson, Meyer, Dann, Schlupp, Kelly

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