Managers will come and go at Arsenal but the same old problems will remain.
Arsene Wenger isn’t in London anymore but defensive errors are still rife. Unai Emery tried his utmost to eradicate them while Mikel Arteta has come close on occasions.
However, some painstaking individual mistakes have cost them in recent weeks. Whether it be Dani Ceballos against Benfica and Olympiacos, Bernd Leno versus Wolves or Granit Xhaka in the draw with Burnley, it has been nothing short of calamitous.
It appears that when it comes to defending, the club are cursed. Though, there is another area in N5 that appears to be a poisoned chalice; Arsenal’s captaincy.
Ever since Patrick Vieira left back in 2005, the Gunners have been through plenty of captains. Thierry Henry led from the front with his on-field displays but after that, it has been a tale of woe for pretty much each and every one of the club’s skippers.
William Gallas was the first antagonist back in 2007, tarnishing the captaincy and thus, beginning a remarkable trend at London Colney.
On the day that Eduardo broke his leg after a horrific challenge, Arsenal lost to Birmingham and with it, started their title collapse. Gallas was slumped on the floor at full time and sat motionless on the St Andrew’s Turf, waiting for the ground to swallow him up.
If anything encapsulated a host of Arsenal captains in the last 14 years it would be that moment. Cesc Fabregas took on the mantle next and like Henry, led well on the pitch.
However, he eventually moved to Barcelona and even missed an Arsenal game to go to watch the Spanish Grand Prix.
Robin van Persie took on the baton from the midfielder but similarly to Fabregas, departed shortly after following demands he made about the direction of the club. Thomas Vermaelen became his successor but a different kind of curse took over; one where their captain very rarely played.
One moment, the French defender was happy and then the next, he was refusing to go on Arsenal’s pre-season tour of America in 2019. He subsequently moved to Bordeaux and then proceeded to rip off a Gunners shirt during his unveiling video.
Though, the worst of all was Granit Xhaka. The Swiss was horrendously torn apart by the club’s supporters in a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace during the 2019/20 campaign.
As he was being substituted, Xhaka proceeded to rip the armband off, give the crowd some stick and then throw his shirt to the ground in disgust.
Emery consequently relieved him of his duties and made Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the skipper.
Like Henry, he has led from the front. Without Aubameyang, Arsenal wouldn’t have won the FA Cup last term. However, in recent days, we’ve seen the curse begin to blow up in Arteta’s face.
There has been a certain negativity attached to the honour of Arsenal captain over the last decade and now their star man is the latest to be caught up in some drama.
Aubameyang reported late when the team met up ahead of the north London derby with Tottenham on Sunday and as a result, he was dropped to the bench. It was a major call from the manager in what was their biggest game of the season.
The Gabonese forward failed to get any minutes and then while Arsenal’s subs warmed down on the Emirates pitch at full-time, he got in his car and sped off into the distance.
Time will tell whether that was a landmark moment in his career at the club. Aubameyang has often been the joker of the pack, the go-to man when Arsenal are in a crisis. On this occasion, however, he was nowhere to be seen.
After what’s happened in years gone by, Arteta will be wary of escalating this situation. After all, Arsenal’s number 14 had just started to rediscover his best form; the last thing they need is a starting XI without his name on.