Ranking Arsenal’s 13 Premier League captains as Alexandre Lacazette heads for exit

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Mikel Arteta has been left searching for an Arsenal captain to replace Alexandre Lacazette, who is leaving Emirates for the Emirates.

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Arsenal’s 10 Last Captains

Arsenal is looking for a replacement captain following Alexandre Lacazette’s resignation at the end of his contract.

The armband was worn by the Frenchman for only a few months after it was given to him by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Aubameyang was allowed to leave in January. In Lacazette’s short tenure, little happened except for the Gunners dropping out of the top four teams and not being offered a place in the Champions League.

The young Arsenal side of Mikel Arteta need leadership. This Spaniard will need to appoint the 14th captain for the Premier League era. Although the Gunners have been successful over the past three decades, there have been times when they were not competitive.

Sometimes the club was able to rely on exceptional leaders at times, while other times a dearth of senior figures and leadership was cited as a significant weakness in their armor. We look back at the greatest Arsenal captains during the Premier League days.

1. Patrick Vieira

It was a toss up for the top spot. But the Invincibles season proved to be a pivotal moment in the club’s history. The Frenchman was the team’s lifeblood. It was fitting that he would score his final goal of the season against Leicester City. Vieira was also given an unenviable task: to follow in the footsteps of a club legend.

Vieira’s fight with Roy Keane was a fitting example of the spirit of north London – and that was before he even donned the armband. The World Cup winner is also Arsenal’s only skipper who was present at all three titles. He converted a penalty to win the FA Cup 2005, his last kick at the ball.

2. Tony Adams

Adams began his career as a backlineman for Arsenal before the Premier League was created. Adams was named captain at 21. After that, he went on to become the first ever title-winning skipper in 3 decades. His performance at centre-half has made him one the most respected defenders over the past 30 year. He won Arsenal’s first Premier League title, scoring against Everton to seal league success.

3. Thierry Henry

He was already a legend when he assumed the role of skipper after his long-time colleague Vieira moved to Serie A. The striker was now in charge of a team that had had their engine room taken from them. He stood firm, especially in Champions League games that saw him take the Gunners to Paris. He was denied the opportunity to lift the trophy, and he decided to leave for Barcelona 12 months later. However, his legacy is secure.

4. Cesc Fabregas

The silverware has been a major part of the 30 year success story. Fabregas could not follow their lead, but he was brave from the Spaniard to assume the captaincy at 21. Fabregas, long considered a bright light, continued to emerge as the team’s heartbeat. Fabregas would eventually leave and return to Barcelona in 2012.

5. Mikel Arteta

Arteta’s legacy will depend on his current tenure as coach. Arteta was an experienced professional who played for the Gunners during the latter half of his career, which may have contributed to his leadership. Arteta was promoted to captain in 2014, and helped Arsenal win their Community Shield. While injuries limited his appearances, the club would still retain the FA Cup in that year, even though he was absent from Wembley.

6. Robin van Persie

It was a toss-up. Van Persie was certainly responsible for Arsenal’s exit. It was even worse when he chose to join Manchester United. It seems that this is a common theme among the club’s captains. Although he was only the skipper for one season you can see that he had a lot to do with his on-field performances. He was almost the sole reason Arsenal reached fourth place and won the PFA Player Of The Year award.

7. Thomas Vermaelen

It seems that Arsenal captains don’t start in FA Cup finals. This was true for the Belgian in 2014. He was for a long period the club’s best center-half. However, his performances suffered after being given the armband. He was only skipper for twelve months. After that, he switched to Barcelona for the captaincy.

8. Per Mertesacker

The armband was awarded the German to Mertesacker for the last two years of his tenure at Emirates. Mertesacker wasn’t able to enjoy his best years at Arsenal. But, Mertesacker’s loyalty to the club and his work with the young players is a testament of his personality. Mertesacker was the club captain in 2017’s FA Cup victory and played in the 2-1 win against Chelsea.

9. Alexandre Lacazette

It’s not that Lacazette did anything wrong. He just didn’t do too many mistakes, which is more than could be said for most of the club’s other skippers. The contract dispute with Lacazette was a problem, but the club did not seem to have a great desire for Lacazette to stay. Aubameyang was the shadow of which the forward spent much of his time at club.

10. Granit Xhaka

It is risky to cast a vote for a captain. This shows a lackluster coach and can also be seen as a popularity contest. Emery gave the captaincy to the Swiss midfielder in his tenure. But clash with club fans must have been at the top of the list of ‘things to not do’. Xhaka was stripped of the captaincy after his infamous reaction to Crystal Palace.

11. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

One of the most recent holders of the armband. He was often the brightest light in the room, and that was why he was awarded a new contract in 2020. He was however reprimanded within 12 months for disciplinary violations. Arteta’s final straw came in December when he was reprimanded for disciplinary issues. Arsenal released Aubameyang in January after he proved so troubled by the situation that Arsenal gave him his freedom to go.

12. Laurent Koscielny

He could have been higher up on the list if he had handled his exit more well than the Frenchman. His performances were a highlight of his talent and he was often praised by his peers. Koscielny steered Arsenal to the Europa League final during his year as captain. But he then decided that he wanted to quit. Pre-season saw Koscielny refuse to join the club, and then, after he’d announced his departure, he made a questionable announcement about his Bordeaux move.

13. William Gallas

Rule one: Don’t move to Tottenham if you are Arsenal captain. Gallas did just that. His new team won at Emirates in a matter of months, as if it was scripted. Gallas is most famous for his reaction at a draw against Birmingham City. Wenger eventually had to drag him off the pitch.