September 27, 2019 / 5:00 PM / 18 days ago

Emery backs new Arsenal captain Xhaka to win over fans

(Reuters) - Arsenal manager Unai Emery backed Granit Xhaka to win the fans over after the Swiss midfielder was named the club’s new captain following a dressing-room vote.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Arsenal v Aston Villa - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - September 22, 2019 Arsenal manager Unai Emery gestures REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Xhaka, who has captained Arsenal six times this season, finished ahead of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Hector Bellerin, Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil in the voting process.

Xhaka has come in for criticism this season for a number of errors, including conceding a penalty in the 2-2 draw against London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Yet Emery said the Switzerland international would learn from his mistakes.

“He (Xhaka) is mature, he has experience. We are living under pressure and criticism, as a coach, as a player, as a club,” Emery told reporters ahead of Monday’s Premier League trip to Manchester United.

“I spoke with him, we want to change that outside opinion (of him). The respect he has inside is very important. I trust and believe in him. He is a good man, a good professional, a good player.

“Sometimes he has made mistakes but the most important thing is to analyse, to learn and correct those mistakes. His challenge is to change that opinion and... improving each match and giving us his help every time.”

Arsenal’s defence has been boosted by the return of Rob Holding, Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin, who all played in Tuesday’s League Cup win over Nottingham Forest, and Emery said it was ‘amazing news’ to have them back in contention.

“We can be a better competitive team with them,” Emery said. “For us every player being available... is the perfect moment. We are really happy with Rob Holding, Hector and Kieran.

“Now we have two injuries, Lacazette (ankle) and Emile Smith Rowe (concussion). Hopefully in a few weeks they can be training with us and available to play.”

Arsenal are fourth in the table with 11 points from six games while United are eighth, three points behind.

Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis

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