Every word Unai Emery said about Granit Xhaka, the Arsenal captaincy & Mesut Ozil before Liverpool clash

Unai Emery faced a barrage of questions relating to Granit Xhaka ahead of Arsenal’s Carabao Cup clash against Liverpool (Picture: Getty)

Arsenal’s pre-match preparations ahead of Wednesday’s Carabao Cup clash against Liverpool have been utterly dominated by the speculation surrounding the future of their captain Granit Xhaka.

The Switzerland international stormed off the Emirates turf on Sunday, cupping his ear and telling fans to ‘f*** off’ as he exited the pitch to a chorus of boos.

Xhaka is yet to apologise for his actions but caused further controversy on Tuesday when he changed his Instagram avatar to a picture of him representing his country rather than his club.

Emery confirmed the 27-year-old will not feature at Anfield but Mesut Ozil, having not featured since the end of September, is in-line for a recall, potentially as skipper.

Here’s every word the under-fire Arsenal manager had to say in hs pre-match press conference.

How is Granit Xhaka after Sunday?

Good afternoon. It’s not easy for him and for the team. He is now devastated, devastated and sad. We spoke yesterday and on Sunday night I also spoke. This morning, he trained as normal with the group but he is devastated and he is sad about the situation. His commitment with the club is a great commitment every time. He wants to help.

His behaviour was perfect in training, with the group and with the club. He knows he was wrong. He was wrong and he feels it inside very deeply. But that is normal as a human. You need – and every player needs – the supporters’ support. Support them, support the team.

We spoke and I spoke a lot with him also about that. We need to learn and when we are having good matches and good moments, they applaud us and we are happy. But when we are in one difficult moment or we are receiving some criticism, we need to also be strong and to know and to learn to play under that pressure. It’s our work, it’s our job and the supporters, they are the most important in our life. Because if there aren’t supporters, there aren’t fans and there aren’t people behind us, there is no reason to play professional football without our fans.

Now, he is down. He is down and the most important thing now is that we look after him, his family. Look after him, the club, the team and also recover our best Granit Xhaka. After that wrong situation on Sunday, I have one challenge every time, for myself and also for the team and every and each player. When the supporters – our followers – are unhappy with us because maybe now we need to play, now we need to control the matches better and improve things to be stronger, we need them.

But first it’s for us and we need to take one step ahead. Individual circumstances like Sunday, they are coming because as a team we need to improve and we need to be more comfortable and transmit to the supporters and show better performances and the results for them. When we will do that, they are going to support us collectively and individually.

Should Granit Xhaka apologise?

Yes. I think when we make individual mistakes, we need to make apologies for the circumstances. I prefer to do that. We suggest to him to do it.

Will Granit Xhaka apologise?

But now, what is the response we are seeing? It’s that he is devastated and he is very down. First is to recover him, his feelings. We need our family, our friends, our supporters to support us, like us. Love us, everybody. He is not feeling that with the supporters. But we are speaking with him to first be calm and be close with his family and be close with us because we are your family too. Be close and we are going to try to be close with our supporters and this is a step, little-by-little, towards that in this moment.

Is Granit Xhaka the right person to captain Arsenal?

I explained why I decided that. He has the values, he has the respect in the dressing room, he has experience and he is captain of his national team. He has the conditions to be the captain. I decided that and the players respect that. He was wrong on Sunday and he also got wrong the response on Sunday, as a captain.

Is Granit Xhaka still the captain of Arsenal?

We need to go step-by-step, step-by-step. First is to recover him, as a human, as a player. And then we are going to continue speaking about how we can improve, how we can continue in that way with him, with the team and with everybody.

Does that mean he won’t be captain?

No, no, no – at the moment, I am not speaking and I don’t want to speak about that. The first is for him to recover. We cannot anticipate the circumstance because I we are going to play a match on Wednesday, on Saturday and I prefer to keep moving, taking each step, and taking the best decision possible.

How will Granit Xhaka be affected mentally?

Now he is upset, devastated and sad. It is not only yesterday and today. He is feeling the supporters don’t like him. It is one example. Two weeks ago, I met with 100 supporters at Emirates Stadium and we had one small dinner and one small connection with them, me and Edu.

One question there was, ‘Why is Xhaka captain’ and individually he said to me he thinks Xhaka must be more as a player. It is one criticism. I answered him, in response, and we finished that conversation. Afterwards, he came and said to me, ‘I defend Xhaka and I like Xhaka’. If if in 100 people, one is negative on Xhaka then that is positive.

Yesterday morning I was saying the same to Xhaka. Sometimes people love us, sometimes people don’t love us. We have positive and negative criticism and people can support us or not. It is the same that we are thinking in all the supporters, on Sunday, after his mistake not every supporter was against him in that moment. It is also because the team is not winning and also they are also in this moment only thinking he is not playing a good match. Each match, each moment is different. We need to be calm and to try to be consistent and and change that individual situation.

Will Arsenal fine Granit Xhaka?

I think we can again speak about the same, we are in the first step after his mistake. Now is for him to recover as a person.

How will this affect Granit Xhaka’s Arsenal future?

We can maybe remind some similar situations in the past for players, and they came back. For example, I was speaking with Hector Bellerin and he said to me that he received some criticism three years ago at Emirates Stadium in one moment because people weren’t happy with his performance and then he came back. The most important is to keep moving ahead , working, improving and showing and transmitting to people that if one moment they don’t like him, to work to change that situation.

I don’t know not today how it will be in the future, the most important for me is the present, with the future tomorrow. Tomorrow, for example, he is not in the group but I wasn’t thinking for him for that match [anyway] and he stays here and trains and we are going to let him recover as a person because he is down and then think about the team.

Will Mesut Ozil be in the Arsenal squad to face Liverpool?

Yes, tomorrow. He’s in the group so he has a chance to play. We have had this morning a very good conversation, Mesut and Me, and I said to him I haven’t changed my idea about him. He knows what I want from him because it’s the same as last season in the first day of pre-season training when we had a conversation. It’s the same as one month ago and in that way, some circumstances weren’t helping us in every moment to be consistent or available to play. But I will say I think the last weeks he has progressively been training well and adding his spirit to help us. For example, our conversation this morning was because I wanted to listen to him about how he’s thinking now to help us and be with us tomorrow. Then if we are in the same spirit and the same idea, to play. It was a very good conversation and tomorrow he’s in the group.

Why do Arsenal need Mesut Ozil?

We need his quality, his skill and his consistency. We need his positive mentality and then he will help us on the pitch. That’s the next step. I think he’s done the steps before, and now I want the steps like in pre-season and one month ago to help us on the pitch.

Will Mesut Ozil be Arsenal captain vs Liverpool?

It depends because he’s one of the captains. I’m not thinking exactly yet, but we are going to decide the first XI and if he’s in the first XI. It depends on who else plays. He could be, yes.

MORE: Granit Xhaka removes Arsenal captaincy picture from Instagram after shocking outburst

MORE: Unai Emery reveals Granit Xhaka is ‘devastated’ after clashing with Arsenal fans


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