As this season draws to a close, it is another frustrating finish for Arsenal fans, as they look set to miss out on yet another Premier League title, despite the shortcomings of rivals Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City.
The season finishes with club captain Mikel Arteta yet to start a Premier League game, and having only made two competitive starts this season, with an extra 11 appearances from the bench. After the constant questioning from pundits around Arsenal's lack of leaders, it seems that the captaincy will be one of several issues under the magnifying glass come the end of the season.
Rumours are spreading about the imminent departure of Arteta, along with several other ageing members of the squad, including Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini. This leaves an opening for the seventh club captain Arsenal have had since the 2003-2004 Invincible season (coincidentally the last time they won a league title).
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During this 12 year stint, no captain has lasted more than three seasons, and that record is held by current Chelsea star Cesc Fabregas. The list has featured legends such as Thierry Henry, inconsistent centre backs in William Gallas and Thomas Vermaelan, and a one season-saviour Robin van Persie. However, none of these players seem to have reached the benchmark set by Patrick Vieira.
The truly great Arsenal captains of the past seem to typify the idea of pride in their club, leading by example and in some cases a bit of a temper. These values can be seen in players throughout the squad, however, the five predominant characters seem to keep popping up. current
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Current vice-captain Per Mertesacker, Premier League mainstay Petr Cech, defensive cornerstone Laurent Koscielny, previous international captain Aaron Ramsey, and fan favourite Jack Wilshere.
Let's take a deeper look into the five possible contenders for captaincy of Arsenal Football Club.
The BFG (Big Friendly German) has made 205 appearances since joining the club in 2011 and has often had to shoulder the armband during the recent decline of Mikel Arteta.
The accomplished centre-back has experience playing at the highest level, winning over 100 caps for the German national team and also adding a World Cup winners medal to his list of accolades in 2014. Mertesacker has also contributed with crucial goals throughout his Arsenal career, including scoring in the FA Cup final of 2015.
Unfortunately, the emergence of Gabriel Paulista has meant that a consistent spot at the heart of the Arsenal defence hasn't been a guarantee in the latter half of this season. The centre back's lack of pace has been highlighted by pundits, fans, and players alike, and has been a constant worry for anyone associated with Arsenal.
The German's age of 31 also has to come into consideration. After retiring from international football this year, his career should be extended, however, with no captain lasting more than three years this is a serious issue to be factored into the decision-making process.
The Czech Republic goalkeeper has brought a sense of stability to a position that has been a non-stop issue for Arsenal since the departure of Jens Lehmann. During his time at
During his time at Chelsea, he won four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, the Europa League and the Champions League. He also won individual awards including the Golden Gloves on three separate occasions. Even during his short time at Arsenal he has helped to transform their defence, and has been sorely missed in recent games. It is also important to look at his commitment to the team, with him being able to speak five different languages, varying his dialect while speaking to different squad members.
Some would argue that after the 'interesting' captaincy of William Gallas, it is important that a player first understands the club and it's ethos before they are put into a position of responsibility.
Currently 33-years-old, Cech suffers from a similar issue to Mertesacker with the longevity of his captaincy potentially being questioned, but it's well documented that goalkeepers can play on longer than outfield players.
An ever present in the Arsenal defence since joining in 2010, there hasn't been a season where he registered less than 25 league appearances, resulting in 242 competitive appearances in all competitions. He is a hugely popular character around the Emirates and is touted as one of the 'World Class' players on Arsenal's books.
He is a hugely popular character around the Emirates Stadium and is touted as one of the 'world class' players on Arsenal's books. The Frenchman also seems to have a terrific sense of timing, scoring in games on the final day of both the 2012 and 2013 Premier League seasons, in order to secure Champions League football.
The variable nature of the centre back pairing may be an issue for Mertesacker, however, when fit, it seems that Koscielny is the first name on the teamsheet for that position. At the age of 30, he is on the cusp of his age becoming an issue, this is added to by the prevalence of small knocks that have been creeping into his game over the last two seasons.
The Welshman won his way into Arsenal fans' hearts in the 2013/2014 season where he scored 16 goals and was a mainstay in the Arsenal team.
Since then Ramsey has struggled to recapture that form, however, he has had to deal with a change in his primary position after being moved onto the wing due to the competition in the middle of the park.
He has also been an international captain after being announced to the role for Wales in 2011, but has since been replaced despite being ever-present in the starting XI.
The Englishman has previously been touted as "the next big thing" for both the Arsenal and England respectively, having debuted for the club at the tender age of 16.
His passion for the club and it's supporters shines through both on and off the field, instantly making him one of, if not, the fan favourite. When fit he is a mainstay in the heart of the Arsenal midfield, however, this highlights the players biggest issue. Keeping fit.
He has suffered several major injuries which have hindered his development over the past three seasons, and is yet to play a minute of football for the senior team this year. With a player this injury prone it is quite possible that a vice-captain will be taking on potentially as larger responsibility as Wilshere should he receive the armband.
The other issues stem from the players personal life, where he has gained a reputation as a constant media-target and has previously been found in compromising positions.
Who should be Arsenal's captain for next season? Have YOUR say in the comment section below
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