In the aftermath of the incident which saw Granit Xhaka leave the pitch at the Emirates to a chorus of boos and whistles and then respond in a most inappropriate manner, the midfielder has been relieved of duty as the club captain. The armband has gone to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang instead. And while many at the club will have hoped to end the unpleasant chapter therein and move on, the decision itself seems to have given fertile ground for more controversy to sprout.
As reported by David Ornstein in his Monday column for The Athletic, some regard the move as throwing Xhaka ‘under the bus’. His refusal to apologize to his teammates for his behaviour in that moment of the Crystal Palace clash was apparently the drop that caused the glass to spill, with a feeling left that he would have saved the armband for himself had he only apologized.
On the other hand, there is a view, also from some inside the camp, that Aubameyang isn’t a worthy wearer of the armband. There are no questions about the forward’s ability to lead the team on the pitch with his 50 goals in 78 games in an Arsenal shirt speaking for themselves, but some of his off-pitch activities have prompted some questions to be asked.
Apparently, Aubameyang has affiliated himself to an extent with AFTV, the “Unofficial Voice of Arsenal fans around the world” as they call themselves, a YouTube channel that has been blamed by some for spreading negative atmosphere among the fans and causing outrage towards players individually. Aubameyang is said to be interacting with them on a regular basis, and even invites one of their main people to watch games from his executive box at the Emirates. He has also ‘liked’ some of their social media posts which criticize certain players, as well as manager Unai Emery. One of those posts apparently called for Xhaka to be sold in January.
So the question is, having gone through a rough patch over Xhaka, are Arsenal setting themselves up for more of the same with Aubameyang as the captain?