A good leader has been proven to be imperative for a successful Premier League campaign. In the last few years Wes Morgan of Leicester, John Terry of Chelsea, and Vincent Kompany of Manchester City, all of whom have leadership qualities in abundance, have they led their respective teams onto victory. Arsenal need this kind of leader to step up and wear the captain’s armband for the upcoming 2016/2017 season now that former central midfielder Mikel Arteta has joined Pep Guardiola’s coaching staff at Manchester City.
The decision that Arsène Wenger and the Arsenal management has to make is whether or not they deem Per Mertesacker, last season’s vice-captain, to be a fit player for the ever-important captain’s armband. Despite practically being the captain last season due to Arteta’s injuries last season, the tall German’s increasing age and decreasing pace will be a very grave concern for his ability to be a first choice centre-back.
In Per’s absence, the captain armband was given to Santi Cazorla before the long-term injury that ruled him out for much of the second half of the season. While his experience, skill, and ability to lead by example are all great values to be the club’s captain, the competition in the midfield with the addition of Granit Xhaka could call for more of a rotation this season. The Arsenal management have to decide whether they want a captain for now, the future, or quite possible both.
Candidates for the next Arsenal captain
Now: Petr Cech
The Czech Republic goalkeeper provides experience and leadership both in abundance. The obvious first choice ‘keeper this season, Cech will be able to fulfill the requirements of the captain. He has the ability to be on the field leading the team onto victory, which Arsenal have lacked recently with Thomas Vermaelen and Mikel Arteta on the bench for much of the past few seasons.
In addition, he has the most Premier League experience in the side, and his playing time and composure could prove valuable in order to finally take this talented team to the next level and to the Premier League title. However, the 34-year-old only has so many good seasons left in the tank, and Wenger may want to consider more of a long-term option.
The Future: Aaron Ramsey
If Ramsey proved anything at Euro 2016, it’s that he is capable of being an Arsenal hero. His play both on and off the ball was excellent as he was able to move the Welsh attacks to numerous scoring opportunities during crucial times in the game. His mobility, first touch, awareness and vision, moulded by the Arsenal system, make him just the player for the future.
At just 25 years of age, Ramsey could be the answer to the captaincy question for many years to come, but this will require patience on his part. Arsenal have such a loaded midfield, Ramsey cannot be expected to start every game in his preferred position; the likes of Mesut Özil, Santi Cazorla, Mohamed Elneny, Francis Coquelin, Granit Xhaka and Jack Wilshere have made Ramsey play out wide.
There’s no dispute that Ramsey deserves a place in the starting XI. But with all the options Wenger has at his disposal, the club’s captain must be a clear-cut first XI player week in and week out. Look for Ramsey to takeover the armband at some point in his career if Arsenal can manage to grow his potential and prevent other clubs from swooping in for his valuable services.
For Now and The Future: Laurent Koscielny
The French defender has proven he is not only the best Arsenal centre-back, but one of the best in the world. At 30 years of age and in the prime of his footballing career, has showed that he has many more great seasons ahead of him if he avoids injuries.
His tactical awareness and leadership from the back is exactly what Arsenal need out of their captain. He is the clear first choice centre-back, so his playing time will not be a problem. His age most definitely means that he is in the absolute prime of his career whilst having invaluable experience. His pace, aerial ability, tactical awareness, threat from set pieces, and countless tackles to cut out opposing attacks are what makes him an ideal candidate for captain.