The Arsenal captain’s armband snuck back onto Granit Xhaka’s arm, and it brought back some fond memories. Is this the future all over again?
Unai Emery decided to strip the captain’s armband from its rightful place on Granit Xhaka‘s sleeve following Arsenal‘s mishap at Crystal Palace. Since then, the captaincy has fallen, rather questionably, to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Likely for seniority’s sake. Maybe just because he is our highest profile player.
Whatever the case, it triggered the landslide that lead to what was supposed to be Xhaka’s imminent departure. Until Mikel Arteta came in and made him a top priority. He convinced him to stay, but the armband stayed with Aubameyang.
That is, until Aubameyang got a red card. And Alexandre Lacazette was subbed off. That’s when the armband found it’s way home to where it belonged.
Prior to Xhaka, we hadn’t had a long-term captain since Tony Adams. I’d argue that Patrick Vieira was the perfect captain too, just not around long enough. But that’s been that. Nothing to build around.
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Maybe I’m old schooled, but I really value that captaincy and I think if you want to build prolonged success, you have to have a consistent presence leading the club. Given the context of the situation, Xhaka was that consistent presence. Which again brings about that magical word that I use to apply to his performances on the pitch. He is a presence. Not every player is.
He was meant to help usher in a new era under Unai Emery, but that failed when Emery failed. With Mikel Arteta in town, it’s time for him to place that armband on a more long-term home. That it’s Aubameyang. He won’t be around much longer. And I have my reservations about Lacazette as well.
Xhaka is a different story. Like him or not, once you see past your unbridled hatred that’s clogging your vision, he is an intelligent player who is always marshaling his men, armband or no. Aubameyang doesn’t do that. Lacazette doesn’t do that. If Xhaka is third in line, it’s time to do a little musical armband and get it back to where it belongs.
It may only have been for a few minutes, but to me, it was a sign of intent. Arteta just talked him in to staying right? Wonder how he did that. Maybe it has something to do with restoring to the Swiss midfielder what is rightfully his.