With Mikel Arteta headed for pastures blue (allegedly) and Per Mertesacker spending less and less time on the actual pitch, is it time for Arsene Wenger to pick a new Arsenal captain?
Arteta said his final goodbyes to the Arsenal fans after Sunday’s match in which he scored (I don’t care if it was technically an own goal, it was his) and we finished second in the Premier League. The emotional moment made it clear that the midfielder, who took a considerable pay cut to join us from Everton when we needed him in 2011, is most likely going elsewhere next season to begin earning his coaching badges, with Manchester City being the most speculated destination.
The Spaniard acted as Arsenal captain for a few seasons, despite being sidelined for much of it through various injuries. His second in command, Per Mertesacker, was more or less a dead-cert starter since joining from Germany but, during the second half of this season, the boss appeared to be reluctant to start him. This isn’t a decision I personally agree with, considering Gabriel isn’t anywhere near as capable of reading the game as our BFG, but, for whatever reason, it continued to happen.
This meant that the captain’s armband was often handed around, usually to Laurent Koscielny but there was never a definite leader. This is a criticism we’ve faced a lot; our team has no real leaders on the pitch and I believe part of this is probably down to the fact that we don’t know who we’re supposed to be taking orders from. When the captain changes from one week to the next, it’s probably hard to instil a real pecking order within the ranks and we’re left running around like headless chickens. I realise that Wenger likes a certain ‘harmony’ and ‘balance’ in the squad but this has to be within reason.
So, who should be captain?
On one hand, I want to stamp by foot and insist that Per should keep the armband. Wenger should stop this nonsense and quit benching him. However, as I said previously, there’s obviously a reason for this and it’s not likely to stop. If the German’s position in the starting XI is so unsafe, is it a good idea to keep him as captain? My head says no.
On the other hand, who else should Wenger ask to step up? So many of our players are injury-prone and, therefore, likely to get sidelined at some point, meaning the captain’s armband will do the rounds all over again. We need someone reliable, someone who has both legs for at least 90% of the season and preferably someone who is a little bit captainy.
We also need someone who loves Arsenal.
Most of the squad tick at least one of these boxes. Jack Wilshere, for example, I reckon would be a fantastic leader and he loves Arsenal. He would gives everything and wouldn’t be afraid to shout at people if needed. However, he’s so easily injured that I’m not sure it’d even be worth the effort of Wenger handing him the armband. Maybe one day.
Petr Cech is an obvious answer. He’s hardly injured and a proper leader. He’s really good at shouting – lives for it, in fact. I’d also rank him as one of the Premier League’s best pointers. Really loves to point. But – and this is a Big Blue But – he played for Chelsea for so long, I don’t really feel as if being Arsenal captain at this point would be right. I realise I could be wrong and many will disagree with me for this. In fact, I’m sure he would be an excellent choice of captain, but my heart is telling me someone else…
The Frenchman played 44 times for us this season only missing a few games due to injury and a couple due to being rested. He scored four goals, most of which were at crucial moments – something that’s seriously common for the centre-back. The defender comes through at vital times and is one of the most reliable names on the team sheet.
Kos has already taken the armband a couple of times and expressed how proud he was. He understands what it means. He loves the club; he knows what it takes. He’s passionate but professional.
I think he could be what we need.