Unai Emery has confirmed that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been appointed as Arsenal’s new club captain after a decision was made to strip Granit Xhaka of the captaincy.
Xhaka has been under-fire for his performances at the Emirates in recent times and his position as captain became uncertain following his angry reaction towards the home crowd when being jeered during the club’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace last month.
The Switzerland international has not featured for Arsenal since the incident and will again not be considered for Thursday night’s Europa League clash at Vitoria Guimaraes, though Emery confirmed that a decision has been made to strip the 27-year-old of the armband, with Aubameyang – who captained the side in the weekend draw with Wolves – the club’s new captain.
“He is not today here, but also I think we need time with him and first protect him also to be calm and training with us every day,” Emery said at his pre-match press conference.
“But I was speaking with him this morning and also I decided he is not one of the captains in our group. I decided that and I told him this morning.
How Emery broke the news to Xhaka that he was no longer captain. pic.twitter.com/KqQ8Ep8sa5
— Arsenal FC News (@ArsenalFC_fl) November 6, 2019
“He accepted my decision. And also I told the other captains the decision.
“We need to carry on and focus for tomorrow’s match and next Saturday’s match. I needed to make a decision and now it is closed.”
Emery confirmed that Aubameyang is now the club’s first-choice captain in his preferred leadership group system, with Hector Bellerin, Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil the stand-in skippers.
“We have now Aubameyang, Hector, Lacazette and Ozil. They are the four captains and the first now is Aubameyang.”
Arsenal head to Portugal looking to maintain their perfect start to their Europa League campaign against opponents yet to be pick up a single point in Group F, the game kicking off at the unusual time of 15:50 GMT on Wednesday afternoon.
The Gunners could secure qualification for the knock-out stages with victory if Standard Liege fail to beat Eintracht Frankfurt in the group’s other fixture.