Arsenal's Unai Emery Says Granit Xhaka Could Return to Team vs. Southampton

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistNovember 21, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 27: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal reacts to the crowd after being substituted by Manager  Unai Emery during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Crystal Palace at Emirates Stadium on October 27, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Visionhaus)
Visionhaus/Getty Images

Unai Emery has said former Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka could return to the Gunners' first-team squad on Saturday for the Premier League home match against Southampton.

The Switzerland international has been left out of the team since being jeered from the field by Arsenal fans at the Emirates Stadium during his substitution against Crystal Palace on October 27.

According to Sky Sports, Emery said the player is ready to feature once again:

"He's feeling better and also he's feeling his team is Arsenal now and he wants to regain the confidence of our supporters.

"Little by little, we can help him to come back and connect again with us and our supporters.

"We are going to decide tomorrow [if he'll play] but I want to do that comeback giving him confidence, making him comfortable, and [at a time] when we can connect with our supporters in a good moment, a good performance and also being strong with them."

Xhaka reacted with dismay to the Gooners' response during the draw. He raised his arms in anger as he was substituted after 61 minutes for Bukayo Saka.

The 27-year-old stormed down the tunnel rather than taking a place on the bench, removing his Arsenal shirt before disappearing from view, with discontent clearly audible from supporters as the midfielder, in his fourth season at the club, taunted home fans.

As a result of the incident, Xhaka has been dropped from Arsenal's first-team squad since.

The north London giants have gone four league games without a win, and the pressure is building on Emery and his staff.

In his second year as club manager, the Spaniard said his team must do better and impress their fanbase: "Above all we need to connect with our supporters by playing better, being in control of the game for 90 minutes with our personality and characteristics, and we haven't done this at the Emirates. Hopefully Saturday we can change that."

Southampton have experienced a poor season and sit in 19th, just one point off the bottom. The Saints match will be the perfect opportunity for Arsenal to get their campaign back on track, and Xhaka's return could help heal the wounds opened during the Palace encounter.

Emery's men have collected only two points in their last four games and desperately need to start winning. They are sixth in the league table with 17 points from 12 matches.