Arsenal manager Unai Emery admitted that his captain Granit Xhaka was wrong to storm off the Emirates Stadium pitch while removing his shirt and gesturing toward the jeering crowd during Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace.
Xhaka cupped his ear as he left the pitch before walking straight down the tunnel and his manager said that it was the wrong reaction toward the home side’s supporters.
“He was wrong, he was wrong,” Emery said in his press conference. “But I think now [we] stay calm and also speak with him, speak inside around that. His reaction was wrong. We are here because we have supporters. In football we are the workers inside [the pitch] but we play for them. We need to have respect for them when they are applauding us and also when they are criticising us.”
Emery declined to comment on Xhaka’s future status as Arsenal captain, a role the Swiss midfielder was given on a permanent basis just last month, beyond saying: “First I want to speak with him and speak with the club, and we want to stay calm.”
Arsenal appeared to be set for a comfortable win when goals from Sokratis Papastathopoulos and David Luiz gave them a 2-0 lead inside the opening 10 minutes, but Palace hit back through Luka Milivojevic’s penalty and Jordan Ayew.
The Milivojevic spot kick was awarded via VAR after Wilfried Zaha was initially booked for diving by referee Martin Atkinson and Arsenal were further incensed by a technology-adjusted decision late in the game when what appeared to be Sokratis’s second goal was ruled out for an apparent foul by Calum Chambers.
“But our goal, the third goal, he is not fouled,” Emery said. “That is not a foul. Who is the person who checked that? If the referee watched that action on the TV, I am sure he would not decide that it was a foul.”
Emery went on to suggest that the incident should have been looked at by Atkinson on the pitchside monitor, adding that he believes the system will reduce officiating errors in time when it is used correctly.
“When the referees use [VAR] in the right way, I think it’s going to be amazing because it will reduce the referees’ mistakes,” Emersy said. “This evening, maybe this week, they are starting to check more because they are thinking they need to check more actions because a lot of difficult decisions for the referee are coming, and they want to take more time to check that.”