Once upon a time, Arsenal’s engine was powered by the old guard – the likes of Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry and Tony Adams set the bar impossibly high.
The last decade has been kind of a wilderness for the Gunners as year after year they gradually lost the leaders that made the club what they are. Out went William Gallas, Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, Thomas Vermaelen, Lauren Koscielny. Arsenal fans are clamoring for a figurehead who can push the club back into the title race after seeing so many skippers try and fail.
For a time, simply finishing in the top four was considered a failure for Arsenal – now it’s the holy grail after four years out of the Champions League, and their recent plight since the departure of Arsene Wenger has coincided with a lack of generals to notice the pitch.
Gone are the days of Thierry Henry (C) and Patrick Vieira (R), who led Arsenal to its glory years
The Gunners have lost influential players in recent years and both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Granit Xhaka (right) have not been able to lead the club on their own
Mikel Arteta – himself a former Arsenal captain who knows what it means to run the club and how important it is for the group to have someone to look up to – has slowly rebuilt the club from the rubble of a disastrous tenure under Unai Emery, but lacked players who managed to find the right balance.
David Luiz is an accomplished player with a ton of trophies on his resume, but his recent performances couldn’t match and he was released in the summer. Anyone who watches Granit Xhaka can admire his fiery nature, but he crosses the line too often – and it cost him the bracelet.
Current captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was only appointed because he was seen as Arsenal’s talisman, someone the team could stand behind. He’s not vocal enough and his form has tanked.
Arteta has thus been forced to look elsewhere and build a leadership system, just as Gareth Southgate has done with England – where he has one official skipper in Harry Kane and introduced several other key figures such as Jordan Henderson, Harry Maguire and Marcus Rashford.
Mikel Arteta is building a leadership unit in the Emirates around young talent
Arsenal’s transfer business was slated for this summer after spending £149 million and not winning any of their first three games. There were serious questions about the moves of Martin Odegaard, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Aaron Ramsdale and Nuno Tavares. It was justified – but after three wins on the bounce, it is clear that there is a strategy.
“I think we’re building leadership in the group,” he said last month. ‘It is a very young group, with many players under 23. Martin [Odegaard] is the captain of the national team and Sambi [Lokonga] was the captain at Anderlecht.
“Martin has this ability to do that with his talent, getting the ball when others are likely to refuse, but also with his attitude, his rhythm and the way he pushes and puts pressure on people.”
“I’m delighted to have him not only what he gives us with the ball, he’s a true leader and example without the ball.”
Martin Odegaard is Norway’s skipper and shows signs he could be their talisman
Another of his youthful summer acquisitions also shows the same qualities. Aaron Ramsdale’s £23m move from Sheffield United raised eyebrows – he had barely raised any trees last season when the Blades plummeted to the championship, but he has already dethroned Bernd Leno as Arsenal’s No. 1 and shows he’s ready is for battle.
Having conceded just one goal in the three games he has played since becoming first-choice, Arteta was delighted with how he fought for his place and then followed it with confident displays after their 1-0 win over Burnley.
“That’s his character and his leadership,” he said. ‘That’s how he presents himself as a person and I like that. He is present and dominates his territory.’
New goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale overcame a bad season last season to become Arsenal’s number 1
Centre-back Ben White also came from Brighton for £50million – another fee that was planned compared to the relatively modest £42million deal Man United signed for World Cup winner Raphael Varane.
Whether Arsenal have spent too much, White’s attitude, willingness to put his body on the line and drive to move the team forward is exactly what the club needs. He has been tipped as a future England captain in his career. His former Newport County team-mate Mark O’Brien said the squad could immediately see that he was a player who would lead by example and be trusted.
‘[League Two] is a very physical competition, but he did so well,” he told the BBC. “He blocked shots and enjoyed defending, but also showed his own qualities by being good on the ball. He looked like a complete player. You just knew, there and then, that he was going to do bigger and better things.
‘You could trust him. Normally you feel like you have to coach young guys through competitions and talk to them a lot. But he grew and grew as he played more and started to show what he stood for.
Ben White (left) has gradually settled into life in North London and Emile Smith Rowe (R) leads by example with his honest displays
White throws himself into tackles and his attitude is what Arsenal have been screaming for
“With the attitude he has and how level-headed he is, Ben lets his football speak. I think he’s only going to get better and better. I saw him become England captain in the coming years.’
After a somewhat shaky start, White has settled into the team and managed to lead Tottenham away from their goal of taking a 3-1 derby day win over their bitter rivals – a match that also saw two other rising stars take the lead. plate.
Emile Smith Rowe opened the scoring with the Emirates and quickly became a crowd favorite after joining the club at the age of 10. It is his dedication to his own game and willingness to improve that stands out the most. The 21-year-old’s attitude will reflect on his team-mates and he looks set to impress on the international stage as well.
“Honesty is the word that stands out for me,” said former England U21 boss Aidy Boothroyd. “We can talk about all the technical qualities he has, his willingness to work for the team. But he is so honest in what he does. He’s desperate to please.’
Smith Rowe has been a revelation in midfield and has made quite an impression this season
Bukayo Saka is another player that Arteta admires for his courage and decision making
Gareth Southgate admitted he was ‘close’ to making his senior team in England and wants him to develop further. Also on the scoresheet was Three Lions star Bukayo Saka – who as a player has been forced to dig deep and erase the painful memory of missing the decisive goal against Italy in the Euro 2020 final.
He was also the target of racial abuse by fans after the game. Only 19, he has shown character to fight back against adversity and get back into shape at Arsenal, showing his appetite with a goal and assist against Spurs.
Arteta is a big fan of Saka and how he constantly demands the ball and makes bold choices when a game is tight.
Together, the Spaniard puts together a group of young talent who fight for each other and primarily lead as individuals. The more players display these qualities, the more his team will look like a unit and you can see the seeds being planted.