Defensive problems at Arsenal run deeper than you think, lack of leadership the real problem…
Arsenal have lacked defensive stability for years now, with most putting it down to the absence of a proper defensive midfielder and an inadequate back line.
Arsene Wenger has been criticised and berated for his failures in the transfer market, with a dominant destroyer in midfield allegedly the solution to all the Gunners’ problems.
Klopp Morgan Arsenal: Celebrity Arsenal fan Piers Morgan calls for Dortmund Flop Klopp to replace Arsene Wenger.
Henry Hints At Arsenal Return: Arsenal legend Thierry Henry hints at Emirates return after confirming New York exit.
Guardiola Arsenal: Arsenal on alert after Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola stalls on new contract.
These are obviously huge factors, but the lack of a leadership has arguably played a far bigger role in years gone by.
“With a good captain, a rough ocean turns into a calm lake; with a bad captain, a calm lake turns into a rough ocean!” – Mehmet Murat ildan.
Wenger himself seems unaware of what is required to be a successful captain, with his choices for the armband over the years being questionable at best.
Tony Adams and Patrick Vieira were truly fantastic leaders, giants among men in both stature and personality. Their success came from the respect they commanded from their teammates, and from their vocal natures and willingness to call someone up on their mistakes.
Since then however, Wenger seems to have used the armband as a way to hold onto his top stars; Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie being the main examples. There was nothing that suggested either would be a fitting captain, except perhaps that they were, at the time, the best players at the club.
While a fantastic player in his prime and extremely popular with the fans, Thomas Vermaelen was one of the worst captains Arsenal have had. He was quiet and lacked the on-field leadership required to influence the game, with Mikel Arteta becoming captain in all but name during the Belgian’s last year at the Emirates.
Although not perfect, the Spaniard is in many ways the best captain the Gunners have had in a while. He certainly possesses a number of the key traits required to lead, with his tactical nous unparalleled in the side. His leadership is unappreciated by many, with his impact being most noticeable when he leaves the pitch; a perfect example being Arsenal’s collapse against Anderlecht in the Champions league following his injury.
The ageing midfielder doesn’t have the legs that he used to though, and his injury record this campaign has been disastrous. This may end up being his last season with Arsenal, or at the very least his last season as a regular first team player.
But if Arteta leaves then do Arsenal have another captain in the side?
Current vice-captain Per Mertesacker seems like the obvious choice, but he often seems incapable of ensuring the Gunners keep their shape. When Mikel Arteta is not on the pitch the giant German’s decision making does not seem as sound either, with the defender bombing forward to get involved in set pieces when he should really be staying back.
Jack Wilshere may be a future captain if he can stay injury free for more than a few weeks, but he is certainly not ready to take up the mantle just yet.
So with no leader in the team, we come back around to transfers. Arsene Wenger needs to not only be looking out for players to fill the gaps in his current threadbare squad, but also for a player with leadership qualities.
Arsenal are reportedly interested in signing Borrusia Dortmund and Aston Villa captains Mats Hummels and Ron Vlaar, both players capable of commanding their troops and organising their ranks.
Having been linked with a whole host of players who could be on their way to the Emirates in January, the most important signing Arsene Wenger could make this winter would be potential new captain.