As Wenger still hasn’t chosen a captain to lead the Arsenal side, many fans ponder and debate the merits of those that could possibly take the role. Most will want a better captain than club legend Thierry Henry was, as even for all his good qualities his spell as captain cannot be marked a success.
The majority of Arsenal fans will look back at Patrick Vieira and think of his ability to drive the team on in both the good and the bad moments, and hope Arsenal’s new captain will do the same. Here I compare four candidates for the job. Kolo ToureThe Gunners fan favourite’s name has been thrown into the hat of those capable of taking up the reins as leader of the youthful Arsenal side.
At the age of 26, Kolo Toure is one of the most experienced players in the Arsenal squad, and his enthusiasm and willingness to get forward would surely only help in times of need. However, questions have been posed about his defensive ability, and it could be asked whether he could cope with the extra responsibility. Hardly the best against an aerial threat, Toure may not even be first choice by the time the season rolls around if Wenger decides to partner William Gallas with Phillipe Senderos.
Most fans could see last season that the partnership of Gallas and Toure was not working very well, and it seems Wenger may drop either Gallas or Toure to fix this. Also, Toure will be away for at least a month when the African Cup of Nations comes about- while Arsenal could cope, do they really need missing their captain for a month at one of the most important times in the season? One thing that stands up for Toure is his familiarity with both the Arsenal setup as well as the Premier League. Having already been with the Gunners for five years, he has built up long lasting friendships and knowledge of most of the players, something that cannot be said for the likes of Gallas or Rosicky. While Toure is a fine leader, I feel that he should only be vice captain at best.
2) Gilberto Silva
The Brazilian defensive midfielder has long gained respect in the minds of many across the world with his solid, non-rewarding defensive displays. Having been vice captain for the past few years it seems only natural to some Arsenal fans that Gilberto should be the one to make the step up. Could he do it? He has already captained Arsenal in various matches, as well as Brazil in their Copa America triumph, so it is not as if he doesn’t have experience. Gilberto exudes calmness and is very much at ease with high pressure situations- as shown by the numerous penalties he put away last year in Henry’s absence.
A problem with the calmness Gilberto shows is that in times of need, the captain is looked at to spur on the team and try and rescue a win or draw from what looks like defeat. Does Gilberto have the controlled aggression to get the team up when events on the pitch are not going to plan? Gilberto does not change games, as that is not his job. He protects the defense well, but rarely is responsible for the kind of move that will win you a match- although he is responsible for plenty of moves that ensure you do not lose said game. Gilberto has provided a solid wall in front of Arsenal’s defense for the past five years as well as being a wise head to offer advice to the prodigious youngsters at Ashburton Grove, and having already had the experience would not be a bad choice to take the armband.
3) William Gallas
Arsenal fans will have been surprised when Wenger mentioned Gallas as one of the contenders for the armband. Although Gallas is one of the most experienced and coveted players around, his first season with the Gunners was largely blighted by injury, and even when he was fit his performances were rarely up to scratch. His constant moaning in the press about Arsenal’s youth policy, their dealings in the transfer market or various other things will have no doubt irritated many Arsenal fans across the globe, and left them confused why Gallas is even being considered.
However, when you take a look at the French central defender’s career, it seems like he would not be a bad choice. Having already won the Premiership twice with Chelsea, Gallas also reached the final of the 2006 World Cup with France. A versatile defender who was wanted by the likes of Real Madrid, AC Milan and Juventus before he moved to Arsenal, Gallas too is not sure of his starting place in the Gunners first eleven- all depends on whether Wenger decides to stick with the so far unsuccessful partnership of Gallas and Toure or incorporate Senderos into the mix.
When fully fit and at the top of his game, Gallas is a world class player and having been there, seen it and won most of it in England, would be a choice that would not shock the majority of the football world.
4) Cesc Fabregas
Cesc Fabregas was stolen from Barcelona’s famed youth academy when he was just 16- few would have predicted his rapid rise to one of the best footballers playing the game today. Although just 20, the Spaniard has already made more than 150 appearances for Wenger’s Arsenal, as well as playing in the last World Cup for Spain. Having played in Champions League, Carling Cup and FA Cup finals, Fabregas has experienced more than some players double his age.
A young man with a mind of a player much older than him, Fabregas has captivated the hearts of many around the world with his stellar performances as Arsenal’s midfield maestro. Could he be Arsenal’s captain? Those against him being named the leader of Arsenal point to his occasional displays of petulance, saying that he needs to mature more before he can be given such great responsibility.
Even so, there are those who shirk responsibility and those who thrive on it, and Fabregas must be considered as part of the latter category for being one of the main reasons Arsenal look sublime on the pitch. Picking Fabregas as captain would be a bold move by Wenger, especially with the Spaniard’s recent outbursts that he will be off to Spain at some point in the future. How close that point is to the present will play a large part in how seriously Wenger considers Fabregas for the captaincy of Arsenal.
Other contenders for the role include Tomas Rosicky– captain of the Czech national side and Jens Lehmann, the Gunners’ 37 year old slightly senile goalkeeper. Neither have been given much thought by Wenger though. Jens Lehmann is probably too old, with him almost certain to leave the club next summer while Rosicky should get a season of regular first team football to adjust to the Premier League. What do I think?
In my opinion, a lineup of Gilberto as captain and Cesc as vice captain would best suit Arsenal. Already forming a brilliant midfield partnership for the Gunners, Gilberto will provide the experience which coupled with Fabregas’ controlled aggression for years to come. Although Fabregas could take it now, I’d like him to wait for two or three years- at which time Gilberto will be getting ready to retire.
What are your thoughts- who would you like as captain? Is there anyone I’ve missed out on?