After Granit Xhaka declined to wear the captain’s armband during Saturday’s 2-1 win against Brentford, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta played down any possible issue.
Unusually, Alexandre Lacazette, the unofficial captain after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was kicked out of the team, was substituted late in the game.
The 84th minute saw Arteta make a tactical change by taking Lacazette off the field and replacing him with Eddie Nketiah, who then made a beeline for Xhaka, passing the armband on.
When the 22-year-old attacker approached the Switzerland international twice, he simply ignored him and walked away.
“Lacazette gives the armband to Nketiah, he then goes to Xhaka… Xhaka says I don’t want it!” 😳
Mass confusion over the Arsenal captaincy… pic.twitter.com/Sau64YaHwp
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) February 19, 2022
Play continued with Nketiah wearing the armband, but he appeared uneasy and hurried up to Kieran Tierney to pass over the wristband at the next stoppage of play.
Asked why Xhaka refused the armband, Arteta told Sky Sports afterwards: ‘Because it was for Kieran. Kieran was the next in line and that’s the reason why.’
Probed further on whether Nketiah was given the wrong instruction, Arteta added: ‘Maybe Eddie didn’t pick it up and Granit told him he should have to give it to Kieran. That’s it.’
Is there more to it, or is it just as Arteta said?