Three players who could captain Arsenal after worrying Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang admission

Aubameyang has struggled this season
Aubameyang has struggled this season (Picture: Getty Images)

The Arsenal captaincy has been a poisoned chalice of late, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang its latest victim.

With just three Premier League goals to his name this season, Aubameyang is severely struggling for form and confidence, which by his own admission is making it all the more difficult for him to rouse his team-mates.

‘It’s really hard to manage both [individually and as captain] but you have to be as positive as you can because the team needs you,’ the 31-year-old told Sky Sports on Wednesday. 

‘I always try to give my best, not only on the pitch but also in the dressing room for the guys. Sometimes it’s hard and maybe you are not in the right mood but you have to find a way to change it and give positive vibes for the guys.’

Those ‘positive vibes’ he speaks of have been scarce at the north London club this season, with their tally of 14 points after 14 games representing their worst return in the top-flight since the 1974/75 campaign.

Though Mikel Arteta’s side have been resurgent in recent weeks, winning four games in a row across all competitions, Aubameyang has not followed suit.

Emery put the captaincy down to a player vote
Emery put the captaincy down to a player vote (Picture: Getty Images)

How the Gabon international came to inherit the captaincy in November 2019 is a hugely contentious subject in itself. Former captain Granit Xhaka was stripped of the armband by ex-Gunners boss Unai Emery after the midfielder was involved in a spat with his own fans.

Xhaka was booed off the pitch by supporters when substituted in a game against Crystal Palace and told fans – in rather colourful terms – exactly how he felt about it.

The Swiss international was subsequently dropped while the captaincy went, almost by default, to the club’s star player Aubameyang .

When Mikel Arteta was appointed following Emery’s departure barely a month after the Xhaka incident, the new boss may have felt obliged to continue with Aubameyang in an attempt to harmonise the dressing room. 

But in light of the Arsenal captain’s worrying comments about the burden of his responsibility, there are three genuine candidates in the squad who could step up to the plate.

Kieran Tierney

Tierney is thriving in his second season at the Emirates
Tierney is thriving in his second season at the Emirates (Picture: Getty Images)

Though the start of Kieran Tierney’s Arsenal career was hampered by injuries, he showed plenty of promising signs in his first season at the Emirates following his £25million move from Celtic in the summer of 2019.

The 23-year-old has built on that promise this term and established himself as a key member of Arteta’s side.

Despite Arsenal’s torrid run earlier in the campaign, Tierney was one of the few players who could honestly say they left everything on the pitch.

Committed, energetic, forward-thinking and industrious, the Scotland international embodies the hardworking spirit that has been missing from recent Gunners teams.

Multiple Arsenal legends including Ian Wright and Paul Merson agree that Tierney has is it within his DNA to be the club’s future captain.

Despite the fact that the left-back has been at the club for less than 18 months, he seems the most logical choice.

Hector Bellerin

Arsenal v Chelsea - Premier League
Bellerin has been at the club for almost a decade (Picture: Getty Images)

With over six years in the Arsenal first team after joining the club’s academy from Barcelona way back in 2011, Bellerin is the second longest-serving player in the squad behind Mesut Ozil who appears destined to leave this month.

The Spaniard, who is currently vice-captain to Aubameyang, has been an ever-present under former managers Arsene Wenger, Unai Emery and now Arteta, despite varying performance levels over the years.

Bellerin stepped in to help Arteta convince the squad to accept a 12.5 per cent pay cut last summer in order to ease the financial burden of the coronavirus crisis. 

The dressing room was initially divided, but as the squad’s PFA representative, Bellerin led the negotiations and helped the players and club reach a consensus.

The right-back has also earned the affection of fans with his endeavours off the pitch. A humanitarian by nature, Bellerin pledged to get 3,000 trees planted for every Arsenal win this season after partnering up with charity One Tree Planted.

When addressing his leadership qualities on the pitch, he told the club’s official website last March: ‘People may not see me as this massive guy who shouts on the pitch all the time or what people may have as a captain in their heads, but there are so many different ways of leading a team.

‘After going through so many different captains and characters from my time here so far, you always get the best things from all of them. The time I’ve been here has been really useful for that and whether I was captain or not, I’ve always been someone who’s liked to help and talk from the team’s perspective.’

Rob Holding

Holding has committed his long-term future to the club
Holding has committed his long-term future to the club (Picture: Getty Images)

First signed by Wenger from Bolton in 2016, Holding’s career at Arsenal has been stop-start. After beginning to make a name for himself, a cruciate ligament rupture in his knee in December 2018 kept him out of action for over eight months.

But the 25-year-old has fought his way back to his best and now established himself as a first-team regular for the Gunners.

Holding has looked solid alongside summer signing Gabriel, and most recently Pablo Mari, with his top displays earning him a new long-term contract which will keep him at the Emirates until 2024.

A vocal and dominant presence at the back, the defender is not shy in letting his opinion be heard and has done a good job of marshalling Arsenal’s much-improved defence of late.

With William Saliba going back out on loan until the summer, David Luiz’s contract expiring at the end of the season and Sokratis looking to be heading for the exit door, the path is clear for Holding to thrive and make the centre-back position his own.

Should Arteta be looking to switch captains, Holding could be a viable option if he can remain consistent and continue nail down a starting berth.

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