Arsenal fans and club captain Granit Xhaka engaged in all-out animosity with each other during the Premier League clash against Crystal Palace as Xhaka appared to tell supports to “f*ck off” before ripping off his shirt.
Arsenal squandered a 2-0 lead at the Emirates as goals inside the opening 10 minutes from Sokratis Papastathopoulos and David Luiz were cancelled out by a penalty from Luka Milivojević and a second-half strike from Jordan Ayew.
Amid a febrile atmosphere at the Emirates, fans vented their anger at club captain Xhaka as he was substituted by manager Unai Emery just after the hour mark.
The Swiss international midfielder was making his way off the pitch to a chorus of jeers before he stoked tensions by raising his arms and then cupping his hand to his ear in defiance, also appearing to shout “f*ck off.” He then took off his shirt and stormed straight down the tunnel.
The scenes caused instant anger among Arsenal fans online, many of whom – including high-profile supporter Piers Morgan – branded the midfielder a “disgrace” for his actions.
Wow. Xhaka subbed for another poor performance – so responds by telling Arsenal fans to ‘f*ck off’, ripping his shirt off & storming down the tunnel.
And this is supposed to be our CAPTAIN?
What an absolute disgrace.
He should be stripped of the captaincy tonight. #afcpic.twitter.com/iCGxOl9scv
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) October 27, 2019
That’s bad from Xhaka but awful game management from the manager who made him the lightning rod as captain.
It’s also bad because Xhaka turning against the fans has an impact in the dressing room. He’s popular there.
What a mess.
— The Beautiful Groan (@beautifulgroan) October 27, 2019
Xhaka was made captain by a players’ vote earlier this season, but has not been a popular choice among many fans. He is seen as being part of an Arsenal team lacking backbone, as exposed by allowing their two-goal lead to slip against Palace on Sunday.
The Gunners lie fifth in the league, four points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, but with increasing doubts that Emery and his players can reverse the stagnation that set in during the latter years of the reign of Arsene Wenger.