Sat | Dec 14, 2019

Xhaka in line for Arsenal return

Published:Friday | November 22, 2019 | 12:32 AM
Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka (left) fights for the ball with Tottenham’s Eric Dier during their north London derby in the English Premier League at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka (left) fights for the ball with Tottenham’s Eric Dier during their north London derby in the English Premier League at the Emirates Stadium.

LONDON (AP):

Arsenal manager Unai Emery says midfielder Granit Xhaka is in contention to play against Southampton this weekend after missing the last four games following his angry reaction to being jeered by the team’s own fans.

Xhaka was stripped of the captaincy after swearing at heckling Arsenal supporters after his substitution in a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium on October 27. He has since missed English Premier League matches against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester, as well as games in the League Cup and Europa League.

Xhaka has been on international duty with Switzerland over the past two weeks, and Emery said the player “is coming back better in his mind” and “wants to come back with confidence [of] the supporters”.

Asked at a press conference yesterday whether Xhaka will play in the home match against Southampton in the league tomorrow, Emery said: “We are going to decide [on Friday], but I want to do that comeback, give him confidence, and make him comfortable.”

Xhaka has said that ongoing social-media abuse aimed at his family was one of the reasons behind his furious reaction to fans in the game against Palace.

Arsenal have offered counselling and other support to Xhaka privately.