Unai Emery insists he has the utmost faith in Granit Xhaka after receiving a backlash over his Arsenal captaincy decision.
Switzerland international Xhaka was announced as Emery’s permanent Arsenal skipper last week.
The 27-year-old won a players’ vote to become captain and heads a leadership group that also contains forwards Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, midfielder Mesut Ozil and defender Hector Bellerin.
A number of Arsenal fans have criticised Emery’s captaincy decision, while Gunners hero Paul Merson called it ‘pathetic’.
But Emery said: ‘They [the players], with the vote, it gave him confidence and I also gave him that confidence after that.
And now – small things or big things – we are going to work individually and collectively to be strong.
‘And also to show our supporters, and to show in our way, how we can be strong with all the players and that captain.
‘I also have big confidence and trust in every player, the captain [and the others] because I think now in the dressing room we have a very good spirit.’
Arsenal are currently fourth in the Premier League and top of their Europa League group. The Gunners finished fifth last term and reached the Europa League final, but Emery is keen to ‘achieve more’ this season and ultimately secure Arsenal’s return to the Champions League.
‘Our challenge in the season is to play for the possibility to win some titles, and the mentality [we have] is to go to the Champions League in the next year,
’ Emery added to Sky Sports. ‘Last year we finished outside the top four in the table but we were close. This year we want to achieve one step more ahead.’