At long last, Unai Emery has revealed which Arsenal squad members will make up his five-man leadership group this season.
News broke early on Friday that midfielder Granit Xhaka had been named as club captain following the summer departure of Laurent Koscielny, although it wasn’t a particularly popular appointment among fans.
Five things to know about Emery’s Arsenal leadership group…
- Emery allowed his players to vote in Arsenal’s five-man leadership group.
- Xhaka was named as captain, despite not being popular among fans.
- Aubameyang has been voted as vice-captain.
- Bellerin, Lacazette and Ozil are also among the five-man group.
- Explaining the process, Emery said he wanted to know what his players looked for in their captain.
Xhaka, just like the rest of the Gunners’ leadership group, was picked via a vote among Arsenal squad members, with Emery revealing he wanted to know what qualities his players looked for in a captain.
“I gave them some values, some qualities and attributes to decide on the captain,” he told reporters. “I used the vote because I want to know their opinions on that. After when I checked that I decided.”
Alongside Xhaka, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Hector Bellerin, Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil were named among Emery’s leaders.
The Spaniard added: “I checked this week and the five captains after that are: [Granit] Xhaka first, second is [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang, third is Hector Bellerin, four is [Alexandre] Lacazette and five is Mesut [Ozil].”
Some Arsenal fans didn’t react well to the news that Xhaka had taken the armband, but Emery was quick to defend his new skipper, insisting that although he makes mistakes, the Switzerland international is working hard to improve.
“First he’s mature. He has experience. We are living every time under pressure, under criticism, as a coach, as a player, as a club,” he said.
“But really the most important thing is to stand up each moment, go ahead with his qualities, with his behaviour, with his commitment.
“In the dressing room, the players voted him as the first leadership. I know, I spoke with him, we want to change that opinion outside. That respect he has inside is very, very important. Also, show outside, keep moving ahead, playing, improving, behaviour, commitment. Each match is for him, for me, for us, a very good opportunity to show our capacity.
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“But really I trust and believe in him. He is a good man. A good professional. A good player.
“Sometimes he makes mistakes. But the most important thing is to analyse, to learn and correct those mistakes. The future is going to say to us. Our challenge and his challenge is to change that opinion, above all with a personality and improving each match, improving and giving us his help every time.”
However, Emery did insist that Xhaka is not guaranteed a place in his starting XI just because he is captain, meaning that he will, indeed, have to keep improving week by week.
“The performance is giving me the next first XI, the next players to play, not the captains,” he said.