Sunday 18 March 2018

Per Mertesacker named Arsenal club captain - despite facing four months out injured

A knee injury means Arsenal will be without defender Per Mertesacker for
A knee injury means Arsenal will be without defender Per Mertesacker for "months".

Callum Davis

Arsenal have angered a number of fans on Twitter by naming injured Per Mertesacker as their new club captain.

The German defender is currently sidelined through injury and is not expected to return to fitness until the end of the year.

Arsenal used their official Twitter account to announce that the 31-year-old has been appointed by Arsene Wenger.

The position had been left vacant since former club captain Mikel Arteta left Arsenal in June after announcing his retirement from football.

The World Cup-winning defender faces knee surgery after breaking down injured during Arsenal's pre-season friendly with Lens in late July.

The news that Arsenal will play a quarter of the Premier League season without their club captain left a number of fans lamenting the team's perceived lack of leadership.

Mikel Arteta held the position of Arsenal club captain last season despite failing to make a single appearance for the club in the Premier League.

Arsene Wenger said the 31-year-old was a 'natural' choice for club captain.

"Per is a very respected figure in the dressing room, is loved as well, and is also a very demanding figure," said Wenger.

"I think it is absolutely natural to be him. In his absence, that's where it will be taken by the assistants. One of them will be Koscielny, also Cazorla and Cech maybe - the experienced players.

Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere echoed Wenger's praise for the new club captain.

“It is good news for us. For me anyway, over the last few seasons he has been like a captain,” Wilshere told Arsenal Player.

“He is a natural leader and I know he has picked up a injury, but he can still bring so much to us as a team. I’m sure if you ask the other boys, they will say he would be an obvious choice for captain.

Wilshere insists Mertesacker's temporary absence from the team will not affect his leadership away from the pitch.

“He is organised, and he won’t take any nonsense from anyone. If someone is late or on their phone, he is on to them - it doesn’t matter who you are. He is the one who organises our team dinners so for me he is a great choice," said Wilshere.

“Without the captain on the pitch - I know he will be around in the dressing room - but without him on the pitch we are all going to need to step up as individuals and as a team."

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