Granit Xhaka has no future at Arsenal, says Charlie Nicholas

Nicholas: "He'll have to take his medicine. I'll be surprised if he comes back in any capacity to play for Arsenal again."

Xhaka is due in training on Tuesday ahead of facing Liverpool 0:42
Former Arsenal forward Charlie Nicholas thinks Granit Xhaka needs to control his anger and does not expect the club captain to feature for Unai Emery’s side again

Granit Xhaka's "atrocious" behaviour means it would be a surprise if he played for Arsenal again, according to the club's former striker Charlie Nicholas.

Arsenal will meet with captain Xhaka to discuss his angry reaction to being substituted during Sunday's 2-2 home draw with Crystal Palace.

Unai Emery said following the match that "now is the time to stay calm" and while Xhaka faces an anxious wait to learn his fate, Nicholas - who spent four and a half years with Arsenal - believes the Switzerland international should not play for the club again.

Xhaka reacts to jeers from the Arsenal supporters as he leaves the field 0:50
Arsenal captain Xhaka reacted angrily after being booed off by his own supporters

"The sympathy is not with the reaction, the sympathy is with him being nominated captain by his fellow team-mates," Nicholas told Sky Sports.

"The manager let the players take the responsibility and it's all been evident that Arsenal have struggled to find a natural leader within the group. He is obviously popular within the dressing room.

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"He's obviously a team player in some category but the actions that we saw on Sunday are just unacceptable. Xhaka may be current captain but I don't think he will be captain anymore after what he did at the weekend. The fact that he didn't instantly apologise to the fans about his behaviour tells you that he's probably upset and angry.

"I would imagine it's a horrible feeling being in the position he's in right now, but that anger must be controlled. To be a footballer of any significance, especially at the higher level, if you don't have a thick skin to take some criticism, then you are not a footballer.

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"You cannot live at the top end because you may get a lot of compliments, but you don't think the likes of Messi and Ronaldo ever get criticised? Everybody does at some point.

"He's representing Arsenal as a captain and it is unacceptable to think you're as big as anything at the club. His behaviour was atrocious, and I don't see him having a future at the club.

Image: Xhaka faces an anxious wait to learn if he still has an Arsenal future

"I think the bosses at Arsenal, and not just Unai Emery, are probably looking at this and thinking what is Arsenal meant to be? It's got a great history, it's got some fabulous players but if it doesn't have the crowd it doesn't have a soul, it doesn't have a heartbeat.

"The crowd will always be the element of the football club and they are bigger and better than anyone else who's involved in it, so he'll have to take his medicine. I'll be surprised if he comes back in any capacity to play for Arsenal again."

Who should be next Arsenal captain?

Sokratis and David Luiz speak during the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace on Sunday
Image: Sokratis and David Luiz speak during the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace on Sunday

"The captaincy issue and the lack of leaders has been the problem for the best part of five or six years. Arsenal fans are getting frustrated again because they are seeing the same sort of a team with problems defensively.

"They are trying to introduce some of the younger players but it's hard to introduce them, especially into the defensive set-up because they've got real problems at the back. They also have a real problem in identifying who is a natural leader.

"On Soccer Saturday at the weekend we had a nice interview with David Luiz and he came across as a good talker, who has a real understanding of the game.

"Yes, he's not a physical guy or someone who's going to scream at people because the game has changed. The players now don't like the criticism that we used to probably accept as players in the past.

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"As it stands right now it could be anybody but I'd rather they just said it's going to be David Luiz. We've brought him in, he's won the title and he's got more experience than most. You just put him in charge of it and then the manager takes responsibility for that, and off you go. It's a start.

"You have to start building again and Arsenal don't seem to know where to begin to start building this back up again. I've been critical of Xhaka as a footballer but I do feel for him.

Arsenal v Palace 2:59
Highlights from Arsenal's draw with Crystal Palace in the Premier League.

"However, to behave like that just means that you are probably already looking for an excuse to say: "Okay, I can go now in January."

"However, the club will control this and I honestly don't know who will take over. We don't have a natural captain but right now, I would have to say David Luiz is probably the number

What has gone wrong with Ozil?

Mesut Ozil
Image: Mesut Ozil has not played for Arsenal since the previous Carabao Cup round

"Standing on the outside looking in as an Arsenal man, the manager has decided that the talent is not preparing well enough physically and mentally in training to be ready, to be prepared and to be fit to play. The manager is bringing in Saka, Maitland-Niles, Nelson and Willock and they are all trying to get as much game time as they can, but you have to be fit and ready to come in.

"Ozil has been a superstar for such a long time and he's not really dressed it up. He doesn't really fit into the system properly.

"Dani Ceballos is probably now in front of him and it sounds to me like Ozil has just downed tools and is not putting in what the manager is demanding in training. And because of that Emery has decided that if you don't train properly then I won't be introducing you or putting you anywhere near the team.

Arsenal fan
Image: An Arsenal fan has a message for the head coach after Ozil's recent omission

"This is where it starts to fester. Sometimes you've just got to get them out of the building as soon as you can. I know there's been talk about him going to Turkey. That might flag up again and there's even been talk about him going to America, so that might also be an option.

"If Ozil is the type of guy he should be, or was, then he wants to play football. He wants to be loved again because he's so talented, but to just sit in the background, probably moaning and groaning about most things that go wrong, it's wrong.

"It's bad for the team, it's bad for the club and sometimes with these players, you've just got to get them out as quickly as you can.

'Pressure building on Emery'

"I don't think the manager is under scrutiny. I know there are a lot of fans who will be questioning what he is doing. What are his choices? Why is Bellerin not back? Why did it take so long to get Tierney into the left-back position when he was fit?

"What's happening with the two centre-backs? Why is it still not fixed? Is Xhaka and Guendouzi the right partnership in midfield? The answer for me is no so why is he not fixing it? Why are you not playing Torreira and sorting that problem out?

"I can't lie, I'm quite content. We have Ceballos, Pepe, Lacazette and Aubameyang who can all do interesting things. Some of the youngsters I mentioned earlier have a bright future also, but the manager has to put a DNA onto this team.

"It wasn't an upgrade after Arsene Wenger. Wenger was always going to be difficult to replace just like Sir Alex Ferguson was, but it is similar problems that are still there. It hasn't changed.

"When I spoke to Unai Emery just over a year ago he was saying to me that his target was to make the defence better and to build like Liverpool have in the last three or four years from when he played against them with Sevilla. I thought that was a great answer and it looked like he was going in the right direction.

"But I think the centre midfield pairing and the defensive frailties that the team have tell you it hasn't improved. Arsenal should be third or fourth right now, looking down and smiling at lots of other big clubs but they are not. It's a real struggle and they are worst off points-wise than they were at this point last season."

Analysis: Problems mounting for Emery

Sky Sports' Nick Wright:

'In August of last year, a few days before taking charge of his first game as Arsenal head coach against Pep Guardiola's Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium, Emery outlined his vision for the team and explained how he intended to change their approach in the season ahead.

Arsenal do not rank highly among Premier League teams in terms of pressing this season
Image: Arsenal do not rank highly among Premier League teams in terms of pressing

'"Our style with the ball is to be protagonists," he told Sky Sports, "to do things with combinations, to control the match with the positioning of the ball and then, when we have the space, to be aggressive going forward. Defensively, the first thing is to be organised and recover the ball quickly."

'Emery lost that first game. He lost the next one too. But Arsenal's increased intensity and commitment to playing out from the back did at least provide evidence of the ideas he intended to implement. In the 3-2 loss to Chelsea, there was even a goal from an 18-pass move which started at the feet of Petr Cech and ended with Alex Iwobi firing home.

'Arsenal emerged from those first two games with no points, but after years of drift under Arsene Wenger, it finally felt like they had a plan, the beginnings of a modernised approach which might eventually realign them with the elite. Fast forward to now, however, and it is more difficult than ever to decipher what Emery actually wants from this team.'

Read Nick Wright's analysis of Arsenal's problems in full

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