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Arsene Wenger admits Arsenal did NOT have a captain during second-half against Manchester City





Arsene Wenger is often accused of not having any leaders on the pitch.

But, incredibly, Wenger even admitted on Tuesday that he did not even know who was captain in the second half against Manchester City on Sunday.

Arsenal skipper Laurent Koscielny went off at half time with an Achilles injury and no-one took over the armband for the second half.

Wenger admitted he is struggling to find a captain against West Ham with Koscielny still out, Per Mertesacker is likely to be on the bench and his most senior player, Petr Cech, is also injured.

“I don’t know,” said Wenger when Mirror Sport asked him who will captain the team against West Ham. “Maybe you?”

Wenger looks on during the draw with City
Mertesacker during training

Then when asked who was captain for the second half on Sunday, Wenger confessed: “Er, I don’t remember.

“It is a good question. Nobody asked me who is captain. I will have 24 hours to think about that (who will be captain against West Ham).”

It highlights the very point that is often thrown at Arsenal. Since the days of Tony Adams and Invincibles Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry, Arsenal have had a real leadership issue.

Tony-Adams
Adams in action for Arsenal
6. Manchester Utd 0-0 Arsenal 21-09-2003
Vieira during his time as Arsenal captain
Arsene Wenger during a training session

Theo Walcott was given the captain’s armband in January 2016 to celebrate ten years at the club - and Arsenal lost 1-0 to Chelsea - and Kieran Gibbs has worn the armband in the League Cup this season.

Granit Xhaka has captained Switzerland, Shkodran Mustafi went to the last two major tournaments with Germany and yet they need leadership now more than ever.

Arsenal look a team divided. Walcott’s equaliser on Sunday prompted a low key celebration, Mesut Ozil pulled out of a challenge with City keeper Willy Caballero and Alexis Sanchez simply threw his arms up in the air rather than chase a misplaced pass to him.

TV pundit Gary Neville questioned Koscielny’s character as a captain after claiming he should not have gone off injured.

Arsene Wenger speaks ahead of West Ham clash
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It would be wrong to say Wenger has lost the dressing room but it would be fair to question whether he can still motivate the current dressing room of multimillionaire stars after nearly 21 years in charge.

The next few weeks will give us the answer because they are seven points off the top four, the fans are in uproar and it is a test of the players’ character and, ultimately, Wenger’s biggest test as a manager.

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But the Frenchman insisted the players’ hearts are still in it. “Theo really cares,” said Wenger. “The players knew that the game was not won. It was just an equaliser and we had to do more to win the game. The players know what is important.

“It is harsh (Gary Neville on Koscielny) because he wanted to play and stay on and he couldn’t. It is certainly serious. If he’s ruptured a few fibres of his tendon, it could be a few weeks. If it’s just an inflammation, he could maybe be available for selection next week.

Mesut Ozil and Shkodran Mustafi during training
Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck
Alex Iwobi and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

“I think if I’ve shown one thing in my 20 years, it’s that I care about Arsenal, I care about the next game, and I will continue to do that as long as I’m here.

“We have played 20 games unbeaten this season, and I think it’s a good opportunity to remind people we are not fighting to not go down, we are fighting to have a positive end to the season.”

Wenger’s barometer throughout most of his Arsenal career has always been reaching the top four but, with that looking increasingly unlikely, the 67-year-old Frenchman is facing harder questions about his own future.

Can he reinvent himself? Has he got the hunger to carry on? Can he lead Arsenal to a new era of success? And can he change?

Arsenal fans protest against manager Arsene Wenger
Arsenal fans hold up banners in protest

“If I would come back on earth I would have a fantastic right foot, a fantastic left foot, and I would be quick, strong and score ten goals per game,” smiled Wenger. “That is what I would like to change.

“That has nothing to do with you to change. That is something to do with you to improve. My battle in my whole life is to improve and to be better. That is evolution, not change. Change is the heart of who you are. That’s difficult. Evolution? Yes.”

Clearly, the fans want change this summer but, in listening to him talk, Wenger’s hope is that finishing in the top four will somehow swing opinion back in his favour.

Arsene Wenger on his future and fan unrest
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Wenger added: “It’s (finishing in the top four) is a good challenge but I think it’s perfectly possible. Certainly for 20 years I have done it and it looked always like it’s nothing. Suddenly it becomes important, so I am quite pleased that people realise that it’s not as easy as it looks.

"That’s why you want the fans to stand behind the team and that the debate at the moment is about that.

"Let’s finish as strong as we can and show that we have some resilience, some quality and some mental spirit that we have shown against Manchester City.”

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

Chuka is an experienced certified web developer with an extensive background in computer science and 18+ years in web design &development. His previous experience ranges from redesigning existing website to solving complex technical problems with object-oriented programming. Very experienced with Microsoft SQL Server, PHP and advanced JavaScript. He loves to travel and watch movies.

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