London (AFP) – Mikel Arteta hopes Granit Xhaka will stay with Arsenal as the new manager looks to revive the Gunners’ fortunes.
Swiss midfielder Xhaka was ruled out of Sunday’s 2-1 loss at home to Chelsea with illness amid speculation he could leave the Emirates Stadium during the January transfer window.
Xhaka was stripped of the Arsenal captaincy in October by former manager Unai Emery following the player’s angry reaction to being booed by Gunners fans.
He has since been linked with a move to Hertha Berlin in the German Bundesliga but Arteta, asked if he wanted the 27-year-old Xhaka to leave north London club Arsenal, replied: “I hope not. He played at Bournemouth, he played really well, he was very committed, he played a really good game.
“After the game he started to feel ill. He had a temperature and he wasn’t feeling good. The last two days he was in bed. That’s why he hasn’t been selected.”
Arsenal let slip a winning position in the closing stages against Chelsea after a goal from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had them leading into the last 10 minutes.
But a mistake by goalkeeper Bernd Leno, flapping at a cross, gave Jorginho the chance to equalise into an empty net before Tammy Abraham scored a late winner.
Arteta said it was the job of the whole squad to boost Leno’s morale.
“He will be down. When an error costs the team points, it’s harder,” he explained. “We have to lift him.
“He’s done a really good job since he joined this football club and we have to respect that.
“We just need to bring the confidence back in and that’s it.”
Arsenal could be without Calum Chambers for the New Year’s Day visit of Manchester United after the centre-back suffered a knee injury in the defeat by Chelsea.
The Gunners, for so long one of the Premier League’s leading clubs, are currently in 12th place, just six points above the relegation zone.
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