The Spanish manager has been looking for a leader in his team in recent months after the departure of Laurent Koscielny to Bordeaux and believes that the Switzerland international is the man that he’s looking for to wear the armband and stamp his authority onto his teammates.
Historically, Arsenal have had deficiencies in the backline and midfield, especially in the last two seasons. With the number of individual errors that Xhaka has made in recent years, the 27-year-old has become a marmite player among Arsenal supporters due to his inconsistency. Supporters were recently pleading to the club to “sell Xhaka at half-time” after conceding a penalty against Tottenham Hotspur in the north London derby. He was recently booed off as he was substituted for Joe Willock during Arsenal’s 3-2 win against Aston Villa at the Emirates. Despite the manager ignoring Xhaka’s criticism, he continues to start games for the Gunners and could eventually die on Xhaka’s sword.
The defensive midfielder was brought in towards the end of Arsene Wenger’s reign in 2016 in an attempt to tidy up Arsenal’s midfielder and protect the back four, which hasn’t worked out. Now the focus will be on Xhaka more than ever now he is representing the armband which was previously worn by the likes of Patrick Viera and Tony Adams.
The move from Emery appears to be a gamble which could backfire if he’s not careful. Due to the fans’ discontent regarding Xhaka’s appointment, it could be one of the last major changes that Emery makes at the club. However, it could revitalise the Swiss-born skipper’s career at Arsenal and win over the doubters.