Unai Emery has demanded his Arsenal players have “100% focus” on Saturday’s match with Wolves after explaining why captain Granit Xhaka will not be considered for the game.
Emery has taken the decision to leave Xhaka out of the firing line after he told supporters to “f**k off” as he was jeered leaving the pitch in the draw with Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Xhaka also waved his arms, cupped his ears, removed his shirt and batted away Emery’s hand as he left the pitch – leaving his position as skipper in doubt.
The Gunners have yet to make a decision over whether the 27-year-old will retain the armband but the it is understood Arsenal will offer support – such as counselling – to help Xhaka through a difficult process.
“My feeling of not being understood by fans, and repeated abusive comments at matches and in social media over the last weeks and months have hurt me deeply,” he wrote on Instagram.
“People have said things like, ‘We will break your legs’, ‘Kill your wife’ and ‘Wish that your daughter gets cancer’.
“That has stirred me up and I reached boiling point when I felt the rejection in the stadium on Sunday.”
Emery admitted in the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s 2- 2 draw that Xhaka’s actions were “wrong” but has spoken since about the need to respect his human side.
That means he will be taken out of the firing line as Wolves visit the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, looking for a result to further increase the pressure on under-fire Emery.
“The focus is tomorrow’s match,” the Spaniard said when asked if Xhaka would play.
“It’s not in my mind that he will play tomorrow. I think that tomorrow, he is not going to play.
“Because I think that now, we need to be focused on the match at 100 per cent. Now we are going to train but at the moment, he’s not in my mind.”
Asked if the former Borussia Monchengladbach man would retain the captaincy, Emery added: “We were waiting for his statement on Monday ahead of the last press conference here on Tuesday.
“The next step is tomorrow’s match. He is training normally with the team, he didn’t play at Liverpool and he is continuing and above all has remained focused on tomorrow.”
Emery will be keen to get back to winning ways in the Premier League having won just two of their last eight.
A host of first-team regulars are expected to return after Emery made 11 changes for the incredible 5-5 Carabao Cup fourth-round draw at Liverpool, which Arsenal then lost on penalties.