Arsenal legend Martin Keown has lambasted Unai Emery for allowing his players to pick their captain this season, and has now urged for ‘safe-bet’ Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to skipper the side.
The Spaniard took a backseat earlier this campaign and gave his dressing room the freedom to choose their leader for 2019/20, with the Arsenal squad opting for Granit Xhaka to wear the armband.
Why is Keown calling for Aubameyang? Five things to know…
- Earlier this season Emery revealed that his players voted on a five-man leadership group at Arsenal.
- Xhaka ultimately took the captain’s armband, but this drew widespread disapproval from fans and ex-players.
- The central midfielder is a polarising figure in north London and was booed off on Sunday in the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.
- This prompted him to swear and gesture towards Arsenal fans, sparking fierce backlash.
- Keown has now called for Aubameyang to succeed Xhaka as Arsenal skipper.
However, Keown has since confessed his confusion at this method, believing the captain was ultimately picked by virtue of ‘popularity’ rather than on genuine leadership qualities.
The decision by Emery now appears to have backfired after Xhaka reacted angrily to being taken off during the Gunners’ 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace. The Swiss midfielder cupped his ear, swore and gestured towards Arsenal fans as he was jeered off.
Many have now called for Xhaka to not only be stripped of the armband, but also to never wear an Arsenal shirt again, while club affiliate Keown has called for Aubameyang to step up and take the mantle.
In his column for the Daily Mail, he wrote: “Emery is as much to blame as anyone. If you let the players pick their skipper, then it becomes a popularity contest and that is not what leadership is about.
“I’ve never had a manager who decided the captaincy that way and, for me, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is still the safer bet.”
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Emery: Xhaka was wrong
Pressure has ramped up a notch on Emery following another lukewarm performance under the Emirates lights.
But matters off the field haven’t fared much better, with Xhaka’s woes now adding to the uncertainty over Mesut Ozil’s Arsenal future.
However, Emery was quick to deflect any ambiguity surrounding Xhaka’s situation on Sunday, insisting the Switzerland international “was wrong” but that he will deal with the matter internally.
He said: “He’s wrong. He is wrong, but we’re going to speak inside about that situation.
“First, I want to listen to him and to also be calm. But really, he was wrong.”