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Martin Keown believes Unai Emery has “got it wrong” by naming Granit Xhaka as Arsenal captain – and reckons Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a better candidate.
Gunners boss Emery confirmed the midfielder is the new Arsenal captain on Friday and insisted he “trusts and believes” in Xhaka.
The Switzerland international has worn the armband in six of Arsenal’s opening eight games of the season but Emery had delayed announcing his decision, allowing his players to blind vote on their preference as skipper.
Emery prefers to have a leadership group made up of five players and the Spaniard revealed that Aubameyang, Hector Bellerin, Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil will be his other captains, in that order, should Xhaka not play.
Xhaka, 27, was jeered by sections of the Emirates Stadium as he was substituted in Sunday’s 3-2 win over Aston Villa.
And Arsenal icon Keown has slammed the decision to appoint Xhaka as skipper, suggesting it could divide supporters.
He told talkSPORT : “This is a massive call and I think perhaps he [Emery] has got it wrong.
“This is really going to divide the fans. There are times when Xhaka goes missing in midfield, he’s given penalties away… he must be an incredible character off the pitch!
“It’s surprising, particularly how he was booed off the pitch less than a week ago.
“It’s a brave decision by the manager, he’s picked him every time he’s available so he clearly believes in the player, but I’m surprised, I must say.
“You need to be sure the captain is going to be in the team and he’s on borrowed time. There are others in that group, Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi, Dani Ceballos, who are starting to progress, so if Xhaka is still going to be a permanent fixture than I’m surprised by that.
“I would have gone for Aubameyang, he would have been a pretty good fit. It might have given him a little more extra responsibility. He’s doing fantastically well at the moment and he’s secure in the team, he’s a regular.”