Arsenal boss Unai Emery has hinted that Granit Xhaka could be in contention to make his comeback for the Gunners following a spat with supporters.
The 27-year-old hasn’t featured for Arsenal since the incident at the Emirates against Crystal Palace last month where he reacted angrily to being jeered as he made his way off the pitch to be substituted.
As he removed his shirt and stormed straight down the tunnel, it led to an angry reaction from some fans, while Xhaka later released a statement and explained his actions while hitting out at certain supporters who had been sending him abusive messages online.
The Swiss international lost the captain’s armband and hasn’t featured at all in recent weeks, although he did impress for Switzerland during the international break.
Perhaps with that in mind, Emery has now revealed that he could bring Xhaka back into the fold this weekend as Arsenal prepare to face Southampton at the Emirates.
“He’s feeling better and also he’s feeling his team is Arsenal now and he wants to regain the confidence of our supporters,” he is quoted as saying by Sky Sports. “Little by little, we can help him to come back and connect again with us and our supporters.
“We are going to decide tomorrow [if he’ll play] but I want to do that comeback giving him confidence, making him comfortable, and [at a time] when we can connect with our supporters in a good moment, a good performance and also being strong with them.”
Given that they’ve now slipped down to sixth having won just one of their last five Premier League games and are now eight points adrift of the top four, Arsenal will know that they can ill-afford another slip-up this weekend.
In turn, whether Xhaka returns or not, the focus must remain on securing all three points and time will tell if they’re capable of doing that against a Saints side down in 19th place and seemingly in relegation trouble this season.