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Emery won't be drawn on captain's future after 'wrong' foul-mouthed rant with fans

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A furious Granit Xhaka removes his jersey after being substituted during Arsenal's draw against Crystal Palace. Photo: Alex Morton/Getty Images

A furious Granit Xhaka removes his jersey after being substituted during Arsenal's draw against Crystal Palace. Photo: Alex Morton/Getty Images

Getty Images

A furious Granit Xhaka removes his jersey after being substituted during Arsenal's draw against Crystal Palace. Photo: Alex Morton/Getty Images

Unai Emery has said Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka was "wrong" to become involved in a stand-off with his own supporters during an extraordinary, ill-tempered draw at home to Crystal Palace.

Xhaka swore at sections of the crowd, before ripping off his shirt and storming down the tunnel at the Emirates after he was jeered by his own fans as he was substituted after 61 minutes.

Emery later refused to confirm that Xhaka would remain his club captain, saying only that it was "not the moment" to speak about the midfielder's future with the armband as he refused to criticise the supporters for their reaction towards their player.

The match was also defined by contentious VAR decisions, with Emery's side denied a late winner after Calum Chambers was judged to have fouled Gary Cahill in the build-up to Sokratis' strike.

Arsenal, who were watched by director Josh Kroenke at the Emirates, had earlier thrown away a two-goal lead after Sokratis' and David Luiz's goals were cancelled out by Palace's Luka Milivojevic and Jordan Ayew.

Emery was fiercely critical of the VAR system after the match, saying the technology was "not working well" and insisting their winner should have stood. The VAR for the match was Jarred Gillett, an Australian referee who has never taken charge of a top-flight game in England. He is a five-time A-league referee of the year and regarded as an expert in VAR technology.

The refereeing decisions will not overshadow the clash between Xhaka and the supporters, however.

Xhaka had also been booed by his own fans during Arsenal's victory over Aston Villa and the midfielder reacted furiously to the jeers of the crowd as he left the pitch yesterday.

Xhaka first sarcastically urged the fans to be louder in their criticism, before cupping his ear to the crowd, swearing at sections of supporters behind the dugout, removing his shirt and walking down the tunnel.

"He was wrong," said Emery. "But I think now is the time to stay calm and also tomorrow to speak with him. We need to speak inside about that. His reaction was wrong in that moment.

"We are working, me and the club and inside with all the players, to manage playing with pressure. In the difficult moments, we can be hot in our hearts, but in our minds we can be clever. We are here because we have supporters. We play for them."

The booing of Switzerland international Xhaka, who was voted captain by his fellow players earlier this season, was followed by chants in support of the exiled Mesut Ozil, who was once again not included in the squad. But Emery insisted that there is a still a strong connection with the supporters, saying: "I think this evening, the connection with the team was amazing."

Emery also cited penalty decisions that went against Arsenal in recent matches against Sheffield United and Bournemouth as he said referees must start using pitchside monitors to check incidents.

"For me VAR is positive and we need VAR," said Emery. "But we need to manage that in the right way. At the moment, for us it's not working well. Now, we have started not checking a lot of actions because we don't want to stop the rhythm or the pace of the match. OK, but we also need to check the important ones."

Emery did not complain about the penalty awarded to Palace by VAR after Wilfried Zaha was fouled by Chambers. On Arsenal's disallowed goal, though, he said: "Our goal, the third goal, he is not fouled. Who is the person who checked that?

"If the referee watched that action on the TV, I am sure he would not decide that it was a foul."

Telegraph.co.uk