After it was revealed earlier today that Granit Xhaka was to be named Arsenal’s official captain, Unai Emery has confirmed the other members of his captaincy group.
The Swiss international will be joined in the Exclusive Armband Club by Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Hector Bellerin.
The appointment of Xhaka comes less than a week after he was jeered off the pitch during the 3-2 win over Aston Villa, and the manager says that the 27-year-old – who celebrates his birthday today – will have to change the minds of people who are questioning the decision.
“He is mature and he has experience and we are all living all the time under pressure, under criticism as coaches, as players, as a club,” Emery said of the selection.
“The most important thing is to stand up in each moment, go ahead and [for him] to show his quality, with his behaviour, with his commitment and in the dressing room the players voted for him as the first.
“After, I spoke with him and we want to change that opinion outside because that respect that he has inside the dressing room is very, very important. And also keep moving ahead, playing, improving, and with behaviour, and his commitment. Each match for him, for me, for everybody, is a very good opportunity to show our capacity.
“I trust and believe in him and he is a good man, a good professional and a good player. Sometimes he has made a mistake, yes, but the most important thing is to analyse, to learn and to correct that in the future.
“His challenge, and our challenge, is to change that opinion and above all, show personality and improve in each match and give us his help every time. The first match is on Monday at Manchester United.”
Xhaka’s first test as the official captain is a stern one, with a trip to Old Trafford on Monday night.
The Gunners haven’t won there since 2006, so if he can lead the team to victory and play well, it’ll go some way to rebuilding his relationship with the fans which is somewhat rocky at the moment.