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Xhaka backed as new Arsenal captain by Sokratis

14:48 EAT 01/10/2019
Granit Xhaka Arsenal 2019-20
The Switzerland international has come under scrutiny in his new role already but his team-mate has told critics to lay off

Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka has found support from team-mate Sokratis Papastathopoulos, who says that Switzerland international is deserving of the role.

Gunners boss Unai Emery previously favoured passing the armband around a select group of leaders, but following a ballot among the squad, Xhaka was the man selected to take the responsibility on a permanent basis.

He has made an inauspicious start, however, as he ducked under a Scott McTominay shot, allowing Manchester United to take the lead against Arsenal on Monday night.

Though Arsenal salvaged a point at Old Trafford thanks to a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang equaliser, questions have been asked over Xhaka’s suitability for such a role.

“Granit has been here for many years so I don’t find a reason as to why he shouldn’t be the captain,” Sokratis told the Evening Standard.

The Greece international did, however, indicate that he appreciates Emery’s system of having a group of leaders, which remains despite the on-field change.

“We have five ‘captains’ and everybody has to accept this and be together,” he continued. “I’m happy because I know the guys who are captains will do very well for the team. Of course, if I want to say something, I have experience and everyone respects it.

“So, of course the captain is important, but as the coach said, it’s also important that the other players keep the atmosphere in the club very good. 

“There are a lot of things Granit does behind the scenes. When you get on the pitch for your 90 minutes, it all comes from the week before and I think that he and all the other players work really hard for the team.”

He urged the support to be patient with the team, despite a 15-year drought without winning the league.

“For me, I can understand because the fans wait a lot of years to win something. They have to understand that we are here, we give 100 per cent and then the first time they win, we win also,” he said.

“For example, I am 31 and I don’t have a lot of personal achievements — my best achievement is if this team win.

“Of course, they have to be emotional but also they have to know that we are here and we going to give more than 100 per cent.”

Arsenal’s draw at Old Trafford took them to fourth in the Premier League ahead of a midweek Europa League match against Standard Liege at home.