The Arsenal captain curse: The Gunners have a rotten record with the armband

Arsenal are on the lookout for a new permanent captain after stripping Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of the responsibility on Tuesday.

Last week, the 32-year-old committed a disciplinary breach, which led to him being dropped from the squad to take on Southampton by manager Mikel Arteta.

Four days after their subsequent 3-0 win over the Saints, it was announced that he would no longer captain the club. Furthermore, Aubameyang will play no part in their upcoming fixture against West Ham.

Read: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: The events that led to him losing his Arsenal captain role

It seemed like a shocking turn of events at the time. However, there were some people arguing for the Gabonese forward to lose the responsibility.

When you look back at the history of Arsenal captains, it is interesting to see how different reigns have ended in unfortunate ways for players and club.

Do Arsenal have a captain curse?

There is somewhat of a trend when you look back at previous Gunners skippers. The vast majority of recent previous captains have left the club, spent time out injured, or had the armband taken off them.

Let’s take a look at some of the club’s most recent captains and their tenures with the armband:

William Gallas

William Gallas Arsenal captain
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William Gallas was appointed as permanent Arsenal captain in the summer of 2007 after the departure of Thierry Henry.

The French defender led his team to the top of the 2007/08 Premier League table by the turn of the year. However, he was also involved in several incidents, and he eventually lost the captaincy.

The breaking point seemingly came when he gave an interview to Associated Press in November 2008. He said (quotes via The Guardian): “We are not brave enough in battle. I think we need to be soldiers. We have to be warriors.”

Gallas added: “When, as captain, some players come up to you and talk to you about a player … complaining about him … and then during the match you speak to this player and the player in question insults us, there comes a time where we can no longer comprehend how this can happen.

“I am trying to defend myself without giving names. Otherwise I’m taking it all [the blame]. It’s very frustrating. I’m 31 – the player is six years younger than me.”

Gallas was stripped of the captaincy weeks later and replaced by Cesc Fabregas.

Robin van Persie

There’s not a great deal to say about this one – except it really hurts Arsenal fans.

After nine years at the club, one year as captain and 30 Premier League goals in his final season, Van Persie left the building. That he joined Arsenal’s bitter rivals, Manchester United, was an even bigger blow.

Thomas Vermaelen

Thomas Vermaelen Arsenal captain
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Thomas Vermaelen became the permanent captain of Arsenal in 2012 after Robin van Persie controversially moved to Manchester United.

The Belgian enjoyed a strong 2011/12 season, scoring six goals from 28 league appearances. In addition, he was forming a solid partnership with Laurent Koscielny in central defence.

However, he struggled for form in his first season as captain and had injury issues in his second. Vermaelen would depart the club in the summer of 2014 to join Barcelona.

Mikel Arteta

Mikel Arteta
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Now first-team manager, Mikel Arteta joined Arsenal in the summer of 2011 and enjoyed a superb first three seasons with the club. The latter of those campaigns saw Arsene Wenger’s side lifting the FA Cup.

The Spaniard, who had been the vice-captain, was promoted to the captaincy after Vermaelen left the club. However, like his predecessor, Arteta also suffered from injury problems. He was only able to make 26 Premier League appearances in his two seasons as captain. That partly led to the playmaker retiring from football in the summer of 2016.

Per Mertesacker

There is a trend going on here, as you can most likely tell.

After five years of loyal service to Arsenal, and continually impressive performances, Per Mertesacker was made club captain after Arteta’s departure. But the German suffered a severe knee injury in pre-season. He made just one Premier League appearance in the following campaign.

He did, however, start in the 2017 FA Cup final, putting in an excellent display as Arsenal defeated Chelsea 2-1 to lift the famous trophy.

YouTube video

The following season would be Mertesacker’s last as a professional footballer. He played 12 games in all competitions before hanging up his boots. Having parted company with Wenger, the Gunners were now on the lookout for a new captain and manager.

Laurent Koscielny

The Gunners chose Unai Emery as their new manager and Laurent Koscielny as their new captain.

The pairing initially worked well, with Arsenal reaching the Europa League final in Emery’s debut season in charge. But things went wrong after that.

Koscielny went on to request to leave the club in the summer of 2019, wanting a move back to his native France. He eventually got his wish, with Arsenal allowing him to move to Bordeaux.

Every Arsenal fan will then surely remember this video:

Granit Xhaka

Granit Xhaka became Koscielny’s replacement as Arsenal captain – but didn’t last too long.

Just a month after receiving the armband, the Swiss international had it removed. During a game against Crystal Palace in October 2019, Xhaka was booed by Arsenal fans as he was leaving the pitch to be substituted. The midfielder retaliated, and The Guardian reported that he gestured to the crowd and told them to “f*** off”.

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It wasn’t a great look for player or club, and Xhaka would be no longer be captain following the incident.

Featured Image Credit: Getty