Belfast Telegraph

Bellerin pleads for united front at Arsenal after Xhaka outburst


By Mark Bryans

Hector Bellerin has called for unity at Arsenal after captain Granit Xhaka swore at supporters during Sunday's Premier League draw with Crystal Palace.

The 27-year-old was jeered as he was substituted off in the 2-2 draw and responded by waving his arms, cupping his ears and mouthing "f**k off" before refusing to shake manager Unai Emery's hand and taking off his shirt as he headed straight down the tunnel.

The decision to appoint Xhaka as captain, albeit based on a blind ballot by the squad, has drawn criticism, with the Switzerland international a divisive figure among the fanbase.

Emery said after the game that his actions were "wrong" and said he would talk to Xhaka before deciding whether or not to strip him of the armband.

Bellerin, Arsenal's third captain behind Xhaka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, did not play in the game as he continues to regain full fitness following a serious knee injury.

But the Spanish full-back took to Twitter yesterday to ask for everyone involved with the club to pull in the right direction.

"We are all humans, we all have emotions, and sometimes it's not easy dealing with them. It's time to lift each other up, not to push each other away. We only win when we are together," he wrote.

Xhaka's outburst came with director Josh Kroenke in attendance, as at least three former Arsenal captains - Pat Rice, David O'Leary and Thierry Henry - also watched on from the stands.

Ian Wright, who scored 185 goals during his time with the club, fumed at Xhaka's behaviour.

"He's the captain," he said on Match of the Day 2. "He's got the responsibility of being able to take that on board because he's been voted in.

"The amount of stick someone like Mesut Ozil has got, I could understand if (he) throws his shirt down.

"That's the guy they've chosen as captain and that's not captain's behaviour."

Arsenal travel to Merseyside to face Liverpool in arguably the pick of the Carabao Cup ties tonight.

Belfast Telegraph


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