The selection of a Captain is a delicate process, one of immense attentiveness and thought. Leadership, effective communication, discipline, and experience are all traits a manager should look for in a captain and then some, and while current captain Per Mertesacker was once someone who successfully personified all of these traits for several seasons with Arsenal, I believe that the search for a new captain must now begin. So moving forward, who are the best candidates to take on this prestigious role? Let’s take a look at some options.
The talented Frenchman is currently an assistant captain for the Gunners, and for the majority of the season he has been wearing the captain’s armband. He has proven on a consistent basis that he has what it takes to captain the side, with a plethora of both domestic and international experience. One of, if not the most, important roles a captain must fulfill is being an effective communicator with the team throughout matches. If there were room for improvement for Laurent, it would be here. I believe that he is an outstanding player, extremely disciplined and skilled as well, however I feel as if he does not communicate enough with the midfield and back line as effectively as we need him to. When I watch Arsenal week in, week out, I blast the volume on my TV to purposely try and hear him yelling commands, and unfortunately, I happen to not hear him more than I do hear him. Nonetheless, Koscielny has boatloads of experience ranging from the World Cup and Euros, to Champions League clashes with Barcelona and Bayern Munich. For some reason, the captain role feels like it comes natural to Laurent, and for that reason, I believe he might be our best option to captain the side at the moment.
At certain points throughout last year’s campaign and at times this season I played with the idea of Petr Cech taking over the captains role, I mean, he’s overly experienced having won over 300 caps and several trophies for Chelsea, plus his age enables him to quickly demand respect from any and everyone in the locker room. However, whatever thoughts I had about Cech obtaining the role of captain, have dramatically diminished as the season has dragged on. Not only did he miss nearly a month of football through a calf strain, but his form has also gone out the window. Last season, Cech had 16 clean sheets and had conceded 31 goals through 34 appearances, compare that to this season where in 5 less appearances, he has only 9 clean sheets and has conceded 33 goals. Now, I know that I, nor you, should judge a Captain based solely off of his performances, however these sorts of things come to mind when choosing the next leader of this club. Do we really want someone who is lacking in confidence and form as well, to be leading our club? His controlling cadence, experience, and discipline however, allow for me to easily place him as second in line to take over the captain’s role if something were to happen to Bosscielny.
I wanted to throw Theo in as an option simply because he has captained the Gunners a few times this season and in the past, but it’s a stretch. Theo has been with the club for over a decade, so the experience is there, but he just doesn’t strike me as a leader within the squad like the way I view Koscielny or Petr. I just think Theo has a little more he needs to learn about the game before we can fully hand over the captain’s band to him, but he serves as a nice replacement down the road.
These three players are certainly some good choices in regards to selecting a new captain, but honestly I don’t think either of the three are superb options. Ideally, if I were to sculpt the perfect captain, he would be as follows: experienced, both at the club and country level, have a gritty and demanding tenor, speak English well enough to effectively communicate to the starting XI, smart, and of course loved both inside and outside the locker room. When I think of a captain, I think John Terry, Philip Lahm, Steven Gerrard, somebody who isn’t afraid to get under their teammates skin to bring out the best in them, and for the past few years, I just haven’t seen that with this Arsenal. But as of right now Arsenal fans around the world should be worrying about other issues, not about who will be Arsenal’s next Patrick Vieira.
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