Xhaka's actions must cost him Arsenal captaincy, says Petit
Granit Xhaka's response to jeers from Arsenal supporters cannot be tolerated, according to former Gunners midfielder Emmanuel Petit.
Emmanuel Petit has joined the chorus of former players calling for Granit Xhaka to be stripped of the Arsenal captaincy.
Xhaka, 27, inflamed a fractious relationship with fans when he reacted angrily to being booed during Sunday's 2-2 Premier League draw with Crystal Palace at Emirates Stadium. The midfielder raised his arms, cupped an ear, took off his shirt and appeared to swear at home supporters who jeered him off the pitch in the second half.
Ex-Arsenal players give thoughts on Xhaka episode
Gunners great Ian Wright instructed Xhaka to apologise, while long-serving former defender Nigel Winterburn is among those who have advised manager Unai Emery to take away the armband, a move Petit agrees must be made.
"For me, he can't be the Arsenal captain any longer. It's impossible," the former France international wrote in a column for Paddy Power. "What he did was unacceptable. What he did on the pitch is one thing – I've made it clear that I don't know what he adds to the team – but what Xhaka did as he left the pitch is totally different. You can't do that, it's like betrayal in England. I played with guys like Tony Adams and Patrick Vieira – real leaders, big captains – and they showed the personality and character of what it means to be Arsenal captain, whatever happened on the pitch. Adams and Vieira always respected the fans. I don't think Xhaka understands what it means to be a supporter in England. He doesn't know the love those people have for the club and the players, they always support you."
That was not the case against Palace, with Petit claiming the "anger" directed at Xhaka was a sign Arsenal supporters no longer want him at the club. The 1998 World Cup winner and former Arsenal midfielder believes some of the blame for the breakdown in relations must also be apportioned to head coach Emery.
Petit added: "He knows Xhaka has been getting criticised for weeks, so what message does it send substituting this player, his captain, after an hour? If you remember, the same thing happened against Sheffield United, again when they needed to chase the win. Clearly, doing that two league games in a row tells the world that you don't think your captain is at the right level to play."