Now that Arsenal captain – Thomas Vermaelen has left the club to Barcelona, Who should this season take over the armband from the Belgian international?
Normally, it should be seen as a privilege to take over the armband and become captain. But at Arsenal, there seems to be somewhat of a curse as the last four players that have become captain, have ended up leaving the club within a few seasons.
The list has grown, with Thomas Vermaelen moving to Barcelona.
Although Vermaelen had rarely featured for the Gunners since becoming captain due to his disastrous form and run of injuries, he still remained the official skipper.
Arsenal manager; Arsene Wenger now has a tough decision to make, does he go for the relatively short term option for a couple of seasons? Or does he attempt to prove the curse wrong by selecting a long term option?
The first obvious choice is Per Mertesacker. The big German is vastly experienced with his playing career spanning more than a decade, with three of the eleven years being spent at Arsenal.
During his time there he’s already managed over 123 appearances. He’s a well respected figure in the dressing room and his partnership with Koscielny proves that he is a valuable member of the team.
Aside from his experience, the twenty-nine-year-old loves everything about Arsenal. You can see the passion he has for the club and that is something that every captain needs. Passion and love. On the pitch, he’s an extremely vocal player and makes a great leader. Again, being vocal and having a commanding presence are key features of making a great captain.
After having a rough couple of seasons due to injury, Aaron Ramsey returned to his best last year. He lit up the Premier League with moments of magic. The Welshman unfortunately picked up an injury on Boxing Day that ruled him out until April. By then it was too late and Arsenal were out of the title race.
But it’s clear to see what might have been, provided the midfielder had stayed fit. His spell on the sidelines proved how key he is to the side. But it’s still too early for him to take over as captain. Ramsey is still only twenty-three, at the moment he can play with freedom. Should he become captain, Wenger runs the risk of interrupting his development.
Although Ramsey does have a large amount of experience, having made 184 appearances with the Gunners. Furthermore, in 2011, Gary Speed appointed him captain of Wales. He had the role for over a year, before Coleman decided that Ramsey wasn’t quite experienced enough. But he reiterated that Ramsey would be Wales captain again at some point in his career.
The final choice is Mikel Arteta. The Spaniard is officially the vice-captain of Arsenal and has on several occasion worn the captain’s armband for the Gunner’s during the series of absence of Vermaelen including last weekends Community Shield victory over Manchester City. However lately, his position in Wenger’s side has come under scrutiny. The thirty-two-year-old is starting to show signs that his body can no longer handle the task of playing week in, week out.
Arsenal have been linked with numerous defensive midfielders to replace Arteta. Last season it was highlighted that the club are in desperate need for a physical presence in the middle of the park in games such as the 5-1 loss to Liverpool, the 6-0 loss to Chelsea and the 6-3 loss to Manchester City.
On the other hand, Arteta does have a lot of experience. having made a total of 343 appearances in England, but with his position in the side unclear for the time being, he shouldn’t be selected as the new Arsenal captain.
Overall, Mertesacker is the most obvious choice in my own opinion. The German is in impressive form and is coming of off a World Cup victory. Mertesacker has cemented his place in the Arsenal side for years to come due to his fantastic partnership with Laurent Koscielny. Unlike Mertesacker, Arteta is unsure of his position in the side. The Spaniard is likely to play a bit-part role this season, so it wouldn’t make sense for him to be appointed captain. Wenger is most likely to give the armband to Mertesacker, and then pass it on to Ramsey in a few years time, as the long term option in Ramsey isn’t quite ready yet.