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Emery confirms Xhaka as Arsenal captain as leadership group revealed

17:45 GMT+3 27/09/2019
Granit Xhaka Arsenal 2019-20
The midfielder already wears the armband for the Switzerland national team and was chosen ahead of four other Gunners players

Arsenal manager Unai Emery has confirmed that Granit Xhaka will captain the side on a permanent basis after he was voted ahead of four other team-mates to take the armband.

The midfielder, who has already captained the Switzerland national team, was chosen ahead of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Hector Bellerin, Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil to wear the armband.

The 27-year-old has made over 100 appearances for the club since he signed from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2016 and came out ahead of his fellow Gunners in a blind ballot conducted by the squad at the Emirates Stadium.

Speaking on his appointment, Emery, who has previously chosen to rotate the armband during his tenure at the club, noted that the Basel-born playmaker would bring expertise to the position, and backed him to challenge his critics from outside the club who feel that he should have been passed over for the role.

“Xhaka is mature [and] he has experience,” the Spaniard stated. “In the dressing room, the players voted him first for the leadership.”

Regarding his sceptics, he added: "I spoke with him, [and] we want to change that opinion [of him].

"The respect he has is important, but [he can now] also show that he can keep moving ahead in playing, improving behaviour, commitment.

"I trust and believe in him. He is a good man, [a] professional. Sometimes he makes a mistake. [The] most important thing is to learn and correct those mistakes. His challenge is to change that opinion, improve in each match and giving us his help each time."

Xhaka's appointment as the permanent replacement to Laurent Koscielny has already been met with disdain in some quarters, with former Gunners hero Martin Keown feeling that Emery has got the call wrong, instead calling for Aubameyang to have been given the position.

In addition, the midfielder also trails behind Ozil and Bellerin in terms of seniority at the club, with both players having been on the books since 2013.

Xhaka will, meanwhile, lead the side for the first time in his fixed capacity on Monday, when they travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United.

The Gunners will know that victory over their rivals will open up a six-point gap between them and the Red Devils as the pair look to secure Champions League football this season.