Arsene Wenger is often criticised for his transfer policy. In particular people cannot understand why he has not bought a commanding centre back. Arsenal’s success in recent years has been limited and a commanding centre back could have gone some way to address this but that point is a getting a bit laboured.
I am not bothered today with their reliance on Cesc Fabregas as a player, I think they are overly reliant on him as a leader.
This was obvious on Saturday, when Arsenal’s captain was Samir Nasri. While he has been impressive this season, he is not a leader. He has no presence and is not a player that others will look to for motivation. While Arsenal were extremely unlucky against Sunderland, their plight was made worse by their slow start. This is a symptom of a team with no leaders.
Looking at other big clubs, they do not suffer from this problem. Manchester United have the choice of Vidic, Ferdinand, Giggs and Rooney. Liverpool have Gerrard, Carragher and Reina. Chelsea have Terry, and Lampard, and Man City have Tevez, Kolo Toure, Yaya Toure, Vieira and Kompany who are all suitable for captaincy. This is an area where Arsenal are deficient.
When it comes to Fabregas, their regular skipper, I have no doubts that he is a brilliant player, but I would not call him a talismanic leader of men just yet. On the positive side, his style of football epitomises Arsenal’s philosophy. Yes, he is at the heart of every move. And yes he works hard for the team and is determined to win. But, Fabregas is by no means on a par with the likes of Vieira or Tony Adams at the moment.
In fairness, Wenger has limited options. He has not made Fabregas captain just to keep him happy. He is arguably the most likely captain in their squad. Looking around the camp at the moment, there are very few candidates for this role. But surely they lack someone with some experience?
Wenger is always looking to the future, but a time comes when you have to ask, what about the ‘now’, what about this season?
Robin van Persie has captained Arsenal on occasions. Again he is a very good player, but he is not a leader on the pitch. Additionally, his injury record is poor and that does not help him become a likely candidate for captain.
Thomas Vermaelen could be considered a leader. He is the kind of ‘up-for-it’ player that can get others going and he has a presence that many others lack. But he has not been at Arsenal for very long and is not an experienced Premiership player.
But it is not all bad for Arsenal, they have had a good season. They could still win three competitions. I just feel they would be better suited to winning a competition if they had more leaders in their dressing room. At the moment they have just one; Fabregas, and he is still learning.
Arsenal may have a big enough playing squad to cope with a Fabregas injury, but they do not have an obvious choice of captain to fill his shoes. At 23 years-old he is Arsenal’s best player and captain. He has a lot of responsibility. Arsenal miss him when he is unavailable. Surely Wenger should look to share the burden in the summer?