Football News

Granit Xhaka named Arsenal captain after Jurgen Klopp-esque vote

By Chris Smith

Published: 15:28, 27 September 2019

Granit Xhaka has been named as Arsenal’s permanent captain after Unai Emery held a vote among his playing squad.

Since the departure of Laurent Koscielny in the summer, Xhaka has most regularly donned the armband despite a dip in form and has now been voted as the permanent skipper.

Is Xhaka the right choice of captain? Five things to know…

  • Xhaka has mostly been skipper for the Gunners this season despite poor form.
  • The Swiss midfielder has now been confirmed as skipper, though he is an unpopular choice among fans.
  • Rob Holding captained Arsenal in their 5-0 win over Nottingham Forest.
  • And he revealed that Emery let his squad vote on who should wear the armband.
  • The move is similar to that of Jurgen Klopp last year when Jordan Henderson and James Milner were absent.

As was the case last season, Emery insists he wants a “leadership group” of five players and delayed a captain announcement until after their 5-0 League Cup win over Nottingham Forest on Tuesday.

But centre-back Rob Holding has now revealed he and his team-mates were asked to take part in a blind ballot at Arsenal’s training ground recently, in which they would put forward their personal choices to be Arsenal’s new captain.

“We had a vote the other week so we’ll see what happens and see who gets named,” he said after Tuesday night’s match.

“[We had to] write names down and then give them to the manager. He will go through them obviously with his input and then we’ll see what happens.”

Despite Xhaka being named as captain, there has been no indication as to who else will make up Emery’s leadership group, although reports suggest Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette are among the frontrunners.

Democracy

This isn’t the first high-profile captaincy appointment to be made in the Premier League within the last 12 months, as Emery’s process emulates that of Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool in October 2018.

Usual captain and vice-captain Jordan Henderson and James Milner were absent for the Reds’ Champions League fixture at home to Red Star Belgrade last season and, so, in deciding who should be the leaders in their stead, Klopp admitted he allowed his players to make the decision.

Centre-back Virgil van Dijk and fellow Dutchman Georginio Wijnaldum were eventually named as captain and vice-captain respectively.

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“It probably says a lot about it (his character), but it was not my decision,” Klopp said at the time. “But it was not my decision.

“I decided Hendo and Milly will stay, that was 100% the logical thing to do, and it would have been like that if we voted.

“And I said, the next two, the players can vote for. Now we have two Dutch guys in a row because the team decided no.3 for Virgil and no.4 for Gini.”

Arsenal fans react to Xhaka announcement

In all likelihood, Arsenal fans would probably have preferred to see one of their potential vice-captains – Aubameyang and Lacazette – given the armband and now, Xhaka must prove himself to the Emirates crowd more than ever.

After all, that is the opinion of former Arsenal centre-back Martin Keown, who told talkSPORT: “This is a massive call and I think perhaps he [Emery] has got it wrong.

“This is really going to divide the fans. There are times when Xhaka goes missing in midfield, he’s given penalties away… he must be an incredible character off the pitch!

“It’s surprising, particularly how he was booed off the pitch less than a week ago.

“It’s a brave decision by the manager, he’s picked him every time he’s available so he clearly believes in the player, but I’m surprised, I must say.

“I would have gone for Aubameyang, he would have been a pretty good fit. It might have given him a little more extra responsibility. He’s doing fantastically well at the moment and he’s secure in the team, he’s a regular.”

The former Borussia Monchengladbach man is hardly the most popular figure in north London right now and supporters were quick to take to Twitter to show their derision at the appointment.

Although there were a few sections of the Gunners faithful willing to get behind their new skipper.

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