Sunday 19 November 2017

No captain at the helm on sinking Arsenal ship

Wenger confirmed he was yet to decide who would captain his team against West Ham tonight. Photo: Getty Images
Wenger confirmed he was yet to decide who would captain his team against West Ham tonight. Photo: Getty Images

Daniel Zeqiri

Arsene Wenger made the damning admission yesterday that he did not know who captained Arsenal in the second half of their 2-2 draw with Manchester City last Sunday.

On-field captain Laurent Koscielny was substituted at half-time with an Achilles injury, but it was unclear who received the armband in the second period.

Wenger's words only add weight to the arguments of his harshest critics, who charge that Arsenal are a rudderless ship, lacking leadership.

"I don't remember," Wenger said when asked who was captain. "No, it is a good question. Nobody asked me who is captain."

Wenger confirmed he was yet to decide who would captain his team against West Ham tonight.

The Arsenal captaincy has taken on a ceremonial feel in recent seasons, with club skippers Thomas Vermaelen, Mikel Arteta and Per Mertesacker spending lengthy spells on the sidelines. Since the start of the 2012-'13 season, Arsenal's captain has played in 86 of 262 games in all competitions.

Chief executive Ivan Gazidis said after last Sunday's match that Arsenal's poor results over the past six weeks, which included a 10-2 aggregate defeat by Bayern Munich in the Champions League, had been a "catalyst for change" at the Emirates.

The club's hierarchy are hastening their search for a 'sporting director' to work with Wenger or smooth the transition should he depart.

The Frenchman defended the off-field structures, saying: "I would like you to visit one day and see it now from what it was when I arrived. You would say there is a structural change.

"I can still say, 'Yes we do not win enough games'. But as well we have managed to combine investments, structural change without anybody putting one penny in - all only based on the quality of my work.

"If somebody in the next 20 years does much better, believe me I am very happy. But at least he has fantastic conditions - a strong financial situation and good players."

While Koscielny misses out against West Ham, Wenger is confident Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey will pass late fitness tests as Arsenal look to close the gap on the top four. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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