Regardless of whether you think Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should stay or go, it feels that we are pretty unanimous in thought that he should be stripped of the captaincy.
The only people I see sticking up for Auba online are those that are so hell bent in hatred of Mikel Arteta that they support any player that falls out of favour with him. These folk can be ignored as the majority are not really Arsenal fans. Most have never been to a game and their opinions are driven by what gets them the most attention on social media.
So if Auba is stripped of the captaincy, who are the contenders to take the armband? It is a question that has led to some heated discussion in the WhatsApp group. Driven by one who said Granit Xhaka was the most natural leader at the club.
So who are the runners and riders?
Arsenal’s vice-captain and the man who takes the armband when Auba is not on the pitch.
Lacazette is reportedly a good influence on the younger players on the training ground.
In an interview, Emile Smith Rowe said “Alexandre Lacazette has helped me so much since I’ve come into the side.”
“Laca gives so much of us young players confidence. He tells us how good we are.
“He’s such a good character in the dressing room. He’s basically one of the young players.”
But giving the armband to Laca might create some headaches.
If Auba stays beyond January, we might be in a situation where the man up top has had the captaincy stripped off him for discipline issues, whilst the man the inherited the armband sits on the bench.
And if Auba leaves the club Arsenal will surely bring in a new headline striker in January; which will still leave Lacazette on the bench
Lacazette’s contract also expires in the summer.
Unless he gets a new deal, it would not make sense to give the armband to a player who is gone in 6 months, and who will spend much of that time on the bench.
The most natural leader at the club. There, I said it.
There is a reason why Xhaka was made captain of Borussia Mönchengladbach at 22. Why Unai Emery made him Arsenal captain. And why he captains his country.
Xhaka is a leader on and off the pitch.
A central midfielder with over 200 appearances for the club in 5 and a bit seasons. He ticks every box for captain material.
Except for one. His relationship with the fans.
For years Xhaka has had a fractious relationship with Arsenal fans culminating with him ripping his shirt off and telling the fans to “f**k off” after being substituted in a 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace.
Many fans do not want Xhaka at the club, let alone as club captain.
Over the summer he was on the verge of leaving the club, only to remain at Arsenal and sign a new contract.
There is too much water under the bridge between the fans and Xhaka.
He should be part of any leadership group, but should not be wearing the armband.
This season Gabriel has emrged as the leader of the defence.
He is commanding at the back. The other defenders take their lead from him and he drives the team forward.
Gabriel has all the qualities to be Arsenal captain except for one. He does not speak much English.
Whilst some might not see that as a problem, I do. For me, a captain needs to be fluent in English to fulfill his role at the club.
A captain needs to be bringing players together. He is the managers voice on the pitch, and at times on the training ground.
Back to the quote from Smith Rowe on Lacazette: “Laca gives so much of us young players confidence. He tells us how good we are.”
Gabriel would be unable to do this due to his lack of English. He would be unable to unite the squad.
He would also be unable to bollock a team mate or give an inspiring speach to the squad. And he would be unable to participate in pre and post-match interviews.
One thing that always annoys me about Auba is he only appears in a post match interview when he or the team has had a good game. When we lsoe to Manchester City or Chelsea, Liverpool or Spurs he is nowhere to be seen.
That is when you need your captain to get in front of the mic. Not disappear.
Gabriel is a future captain. But not until he speaks English.
Since joining the club Ramsdale has been a positive influence on the side.
When we sat down with Sheffield United fan Arty Bianco, we were told that Ramsdale’s biggest strength was his character.
“He is blatantly a good professional with the right attitude and bags of potential. He was well thought of by everyone at Sheffield United. He is a likeable guy and his move to Arsenal shows he has a drive to play at the highest level.”
He has shown this in his short time at Arsenal, quickly establishing himself as a fans favourite. He is also popular amongst his team mates.
During his time at AFC Wimbledon as a 20-year-old, he would often be found having a post-game kick about with kids in the car park of Kingsmeadow.
He is clearly a very down to earth, working-class man who will quickly became a fans favourite at every club he played for.
But he has only been at Arsenal for 6 months.
To go from being bought in as a number 2 to captain in such a short space of time would be ludicrous.
I am very big on a club captain being part of the fabric of the club. They should have been with the club for a few years before getting the armband. I am also not a fan of a goalkeeper being captain as he is unable to influence his team mates (or the referee) from the back.
Ramsdale is also such an intense character, I want him concentrating on his own game and not weighed down by the extra pressure of Arsenal captaincy.
Like Gabriel, he is one that will wear the armband atr some point down the line but for now it is too early.
The Scotsman ticks a lot of boxes for Arsenal captain.
He has been at Arsenal for 2 and a half years and is a good infleunce on and off the pitch. He has previously had spells as captain of both Celtic and Scotland.
The only thing holding him back is his injury record.
Had he spent the last 2 and a half years consistently playing for Arsenal, he would have near on 100 appearances for the club.
As it is he has spent time during all 3 seasons on the treament table.
Can you have a club captain who spends so much time injured? In rehabilitation and not on the pitch or training ground?
Over the last 3 years, the combined appearances of the 3 players to play the most is 113. Tiernay in that period has played just 72 times.
If we take those statistics over the next 2 and a half years, it will mean Tierney would only be on the pitch for 66% of the games. That is not enough if you are club captain.
You might as well give the armband to whoever takes it for that time Tierney is injured.
Tierney is another who should be part of the senior leadership group, but not club captain.
Having been with the academy since 7-years old, Saka is the very definition of “one of our own”.
Saka is already over 100 games played for the club and is one of the first names on the teamsheet.
He speaks well in front of a camera and is one to never hide from interviews after a defeat.
But he is still just 20-years-old and has never even captained a youth side. It would be a huge risk to make someone so young, with no leadership experience, captain.
I am also not a fan of a winger being captain. They have a tendancy to drift in and out of a game.
Saka should be part of the leadership team going forward so that he can further improve his leadership skills. But for now I would like to see him focus on continuing to improve his own game rather than have some of his mental space taken up by the actions of others.
Ben White – Too early in his Arsenal career
Thomas Partey – Experienced central midfielder but has performed poorly since joining Arsenal
Martin Odergaard – Norway captain at just 23, but not been at Arsenal long enough. Still establishing himself in our 1st team
Rob Holding – Part of the current leadership team but does not play enough to get the armband full time
The modern game is about having a leadership team rather than a single captain.
Unai Emery implemented this at Arsenal, Pep Guardiola adopts it at Manchester City and Mikel Arteta has continued with the philosphy.
The leadership team is usually made up of 4 or 5 players, with ome being the head of the others.
Last season Auba sat head of the table, with Hector Bellerin, Lacazette, Xhaka and Holding making up the leadership team. This season it is the same personel bar Bellerin.
We need to look at things short-term and long term. Who should be captain and make up the leadership team for the rest of the season and what should it look like for 2021/22.
If Auba leaves, Lacazette as vice-captain should be promoted to captain. But that would promote Xhaka to vice-captain and see him wearing the armband for far too many games that I would be comfortable with.
With Holding barely playing, Gabriel should be added to the leadership team, taking the position of vice-captain.
That means when Lacazette is not on the pitch, Gabriel wears the armband. But as captain Lacazette is still in charge on the training ground and still does the pre and post-match interviews.
Gabriel would then need to fast t-rack his English lessons.
2022 would be a bit more of a headache.
If Lacazette stays, but we sign a new striker, I do not feel it would make sense to have him as captain. Although he should remain as part of the leadership team.
This is where fast-tracking Gabriel’s English lessons become important.
In 2022 he would have been at the club for 2 years, and would be a commanding influence at the back. He should be club captain, heading the leadership team. As long as he is fluent in English.
Lacazette, as a senior pro (and if still at the club), would take the vice-captain label enabling him to continue the good work he is currently doing with youngsters.
Xhaka would remain as part of the leadership team, as the most natural leader of the club, whilst Holding would lose his seat at the table (and most likely be sold).
I would then add Ramsdale to the leadership team as well as Saka. The move would give both men a chance to grow their leadership skills and brings them into the fold.
You then have a “captain” throughout the team – in goal, defence, midfield and up front. It is a philosphy very much taken from rugby where Eddie Jones likes to have leaders in important positions across the pitch.
The only concern would be if Gabriel fails to learn enough English and Lacazette leaves.
If that happens we could end up with Xhaka being captain.
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