Granit Xhaka replaces Laurent Koscielny after leading the team in six of their eight games this season. Emery consulted with his players before informing the squad this morning ahead of Monday’s game at Manchester United, live on Sky Sports. Emery introduced a pool of five captains following his appointment last summer but saw his original choices reduced by the summer departures of Koscielny, Petr Cech and Aaron Ramsey.
Xhaka has yet to convince onlookers in the role so far this season and was jeered by his own fans during last weekend’s win over Aston Villa, while Mesut Ozil is the only other member of the initial five still at the club. Emery is yet to choose a vice-captain, with Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang understood to be the leading candidates. A Sky Sports public poll for fans to name their preferred choice of skipper, run after Rob Holding revealed the planned players’ vote for the captaincy, resulted in Xhaka picking up just eight per cent of the 40,000 votes.
Holding himself came out on top in that vote, winning 30 per cent while David Luiz was next in at 16 per cent and Aubameyang pulled in 15 per cent. Sky Sports News reporter, Jessica Creighton said: “It’s interesting that Emery has decided to name a captain ahead of such an important game, perhaps he feels the team needs leadership.
“Xhaka seems a divisive character within the fan base, especially on social media. There’s been lots of memes on Twitter this morning. Also, Xhaka has drawn criticism from pundits due to his defensive errors and there was a time when he was booed off the pitch. I don’t think the fans were expecting this appointment, but the important ingredients are the players. There was a vote and Xhaka led the way.”