Xhaka stripped of Arsenal captaincy, dropped for Vitoria game

Arsenal manager Unai Emery has stripped Granit Xhaka of the captaincy and left him out of the Premier League side’s squad for their Europa League game against Portugal’s Vitoria.

“I had a meeting with him and told him he is no longer in the captain’s group,” the Mirror website quoted the Spaniard as telling reporters on Tuesday.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang takes over the permanent role, although he was also not in the 18-man travelling squad for the match in Guimaraes and Hector Bellerin is likely to stand in instead.

“He (Xhaka) accepted my decision. We need to carry on and focus on tomorrow’s match. I needed to take a decision and now it’s closed,” said Emery.

Arsenal are top of Group F after three consecutive victories.

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The Swiss midfielder has been in the spotlight since he reacted angrily to home fans booing him after he was substituted during Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium on October 27.

Xhaka has not played for the club since then.

Last Thursday he released an emotional statement to defend his actions, which included storming off the pitch and down the tunnel, and said he had reached a “boiling point” following repeated threats from fans to his wife and daughter.