Since arriving at Arsenal in 2018, Unai Emery has had a positive impact at the club.
His tactical knowledge and footballing nous have been a revelation and his ability to motivate stale players that were hardly ticking over, is without question.
However, there is an area where he fails miserably in my opinion, the captaincy of the club. Obviously, Laurent Koscielny was still recovering from a long term injury and the Spaniard would be deprived of his services from the beginning of the season.
He had to name a player in the Frenchman’s absence, possibly two, the other as a vice Captain. Instead he named five.
Koscielny, Petr Cech, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Granit Xhaka.
It was a farcical move that removed all hope of establishing meaningful leadership and his tendency to rotate eradicated any chance of stability.
Ramsey, I understood because of his determination and character but the decision to appoint Xhaka and Ozil was baffling. Neither showed any signs of leadership or the ability to control events or take charge on the pitch.
As for Cech, I’ve never liked goalkeepers as captains because they rarely influence a game. Equally, I dislike strikers being captain because of the increased pressure on their role.
No, I’m more inclined to look at a midfielder or centre back for the role and with things the way they are in Arsenal’s flimsy defence, I’m even more inclined to think that Arsenal’s next long term Captain should be from the backline.
Two of the greatest Captains in the club’s history, Frank McLintock and Tony Adams came from that position.
Yes, Vieira was good and Henry on occasion but neither were as consistent or as driven as the two I’ve already mentioned.
We are talking about season after season, influencing and motivating others, demanding a response, driving the team on to victory.
McLintock in 1971 and Adams in 1989 delivered handsomely for the club and continued to do so for the rest of their careers in an Arsenal shirt.
Mc Klintock once told Charlie George before a match that a certain manager didn’t think much of him. George subsequently performed brilliantly and his contribution helped win the game. George left the field to confront the bemused manager, realising he’d been duped.
Adams cornered a young Lee Dixon before the North London Derby and told him in no uncertain terms that he needed to perform.
— Tad Swar (@tadswar) November 5, 2016
I’m not saying that these are the best examples of a captaincy but both got performances out of those around them one way or another.
So, when this season is over and the rebuild begins, instead of the having five captains unfit for purpose, let’s try to look at who could take the armband permanently.
Let’s just acknowledge that Koscielny will probably complete one more season at the Emirates while Emery constructs a side that suits his own image.
Unless the Spaniard buys a ready made Captain and midfield general in the summer, then he will have to chose from his existing personnel.
The candidates I’m about to name are not the finished article, they are young and will have to grow into the role.
The appointment of any of the three are not without problems, but what they show is passion in abundance and the ability to influence a game by playing well.
So, who are these candidates ?
Matteo Guendouzi is every inch a candidate for the role. I like his fiery Gallic flair and combustible temper.
For someone so young, he is not adverse at showing his displeasure to senior players or standing his ground whilst he argues his point.
However, he needs to control his game more, learn from his mistakes and stop remonstrating with officials or going to ground like a wounded pigeon. He is certainly one for the future if he continues to excel as he has done so far.
Lucas Torreira has all the attributes of a Captain, possibly as soon as 2020/21 season. I’m not sure about the language barrier but his performances say more than words ever could.
Determined, forceful, driven, a leader in the making.
Constantly trying to seize the game and squeeze out an advantage for his team. Who knows, by the time Koscielny leaves, he may be ready.
— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) May 30, 2017
Rob Holding showed against the Brutish Diego Costa in 2017’s FA cup final, that he is up for a battle and able to ruffle feathers.
His absence has caused a flap in defence, similar to when Koscielny went missing long term.
He has the potential, he has the attitude and within a year, possibly two, he could be the perfect fit. He will have to become less respectful and boss the backline, Arsenal have missed someone that barks, points and organised.
Could Holding be that man ?
Who are your candidates as the next Arsenal captain ? Leave a comment.
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