Arsenal’s captains rated from best to worst – Where does Aubameyang fit in?

Aubameyang didn’t need to breach Arsenal’s disciplinary protocols for his suitability as captain to be in doubt.
In fact the timing suits our manager who would have been faced with a difficult decision.

The striker has scored 4 times in the League this season, last campaign it was 10. So Arteta was under pressure to eventually make a call.

By Auba doing this, he’s made his employers choice for them.

It’s convenient for his boss that his ill-discipline coincides with the club’s loss of form.

Instead of us talking about defeats at Anfield, Old Trafford and Goodison we are focusing on one individual.

The same is happening regarding Pepe, the same happened towards Ozil and Guendouzi.

Arteta’s need for a scapegoat is an article for another time.

The future will tell us if the Spaniard has the man management ability to improve the players confidence and get him playing again.

History shows that’s not certain with the Kroenke Family teaching someone in his first job, that instead of getting the best out of the resources given to him, it’s okay to simply freeze them out .

What we do know is Auba is no longer our skipper.

The armband has been a problem for us over the years, a constant battle to find someone who is proud to represent the badge, implement our values onto others, and insist that our standards don’t drop.

As the face of the worst Gunners squad in 25 years, Auba can’t claim that but where does he rank in terms of our other captains in the Premiership era?

Let’s rank them from best to worst…

Tony Adams (1987-2002)

Debuted for us at the age of 17, captained us from the age of 21 up to his retirement. At the club since the age of 15, was taught the values and history of the club from those before him, and passed them on to those who followed.

You wouldn’t see him jump in the crowd after a 2-2 home draw with Palace!

Gooners have conditioned themselves for the armband to be handed to our best talent, like a thank you for them not leaving until they do.

It’s refreshing to read about Adams telling his agent during contract negotiations, ‘Why would I want to join Man United when I’m at ‘The Arsenal’?

Adams’ organisation of our back 4 became stuff of legend under George Graham, but credits Arsene Wenger’s dietary and training methods in prolonging his career.

Goal against Everton on the day we won our first Premier League was not just an inspired sporting story but a human one.

Had openly battled alcohol as an addiction, to the point he went to prison to sobriety and back to the highest level of his craft.

Strength of character unrivalled. Captained Arsenal to 3 titles over 3 decades.

Vieira (2002-2005)

Adams passing the torch to Vieira was so straightforward due to the environment Arsene Wenger had created.
It’s detailed in the Invincible documentary (released on Amazon over Xmas), that even though the Frenchman was bringing in foreign players, he wanted them to respect the English culture.

That’s why Arsenal are unique in having so many players not from the UK who became embedded in the Arsenal DNA.
Imagine a 20-year-old Vieira in training being kicked by a Dixon, Keown, Winterburn, etc.

Why do you think Vieira clashed with Roy Keane so much? Because Viera had learnt the traditions of the shirt and understood what it meant to wear the badge.

He in turn would pass it on to the French Connection at the club.

Thierry Henry (2005-2007)

The greatest player we ever had doesn’t make it to the top of the list for the best captain.

That’s not to say he shouldn’t have been given the honour.

With Mr Wenger deciding to break up the Invincibles (too early) and build a youthful squad, Henry was the most logical option.

If nothing else from a marketing point of view it made sense to have one of the best players in the world the face of the club.

As a leader he led by example but whisper it quietly ……his leadership skills were not always great.

Henry’s body language and expressions would show his displeasure to a mis-placed pass or wrong decision. It’s not even a criticism. The man was a winner and it’s almost like when we stopped challenging for titles, he was aware those around him were not as good as him.

Some suggest that in his final year at the club his legacy was actually getting in the way of youngsters developing, meaning Mr Wenger felt for all parties that it was the right time to sell to Barcelona.

Still I’d rather have a striker who does not accept standards not being met, than one who goes through the motions.

Van Persie (2011-12)

Take the emotion out of it and being subjective, Van Persie’s one year as captain was sensational.

The arm band was used as a prop to pacify the ego of our best player every year out of fear they wanted to leave.
The Dutchman had watched the club sell Fabregas and Nasri in the same summer and it took an 8-2 humiliation at Old Trafford to force them to even consider spending a fraction of that money.

Perhaps no skipper led by example as much as Van Persie, who took one of the worst Arsenal squads in our history and kept them in the top 4.

We were angry with Van Persie because we loved him. In hindsight, his accusation that Arsenal lacked ambition to go to that next level proved to be true.

Fabregas (2008 -2011)

Gallas’s flaws helped make Arsene Wenger’s mind up which direction to go in.

Instead of finding any senior gunner to be captain, the manager realised a young dressing room were responding to Fabregas, a personality they could relate to.

The Spaniard led by example; his best ever forms coming during this spell.

That we didn’t win anything during this era is zero reflection on the midfielder. He simply needed that little bit of experience to offer game management in crucial moments of games and seasons.

In the last couple of his years in North London though, the arm band became tainted due to everyone’s awareness that if the player had his way he would be in Barcelona.

It was embarrassing to watch Spain celebrate the 2010 World Cup by making our captain wear a Barca shirt. An Adams, Vieira, Henry, etc, wouldn’t have let that happen. They would have had a Dixon, Keown, Parlour, etc, waiting back at base.


A bit like Arteta, BFG’s leadership qualities were perhaps more evidenced behind the scenes. On the pitch his reading of the game was faultless, but the team’s mentality was often questioned.

His ‘intelligent chats’ with Mr Wenger led to the manager recommending the club have a job waiting for him upon retirement.

After zero European football for the first time in 25 years Arsenal made a club decision to review every department of the club. A conscious decision has been made to judge results over a longer period. Overseeing our underage groups BFG has a big part in those plans.

Arteta (2014-16)

Arteta was officially named club captain in the last two years of his career, but context is needed.
He in fact was skipper for a lot of time as the understudy to Vermaelen due to the Belgians fitness issues.

I have often said that Arteta was the type of signing we needed years before, a solid professional who could give experience to a youthful squad.

Clearly this is an example of fans not being aware of what is going on behind the scenes.

The impression the Spaniard made in the dressing room had Pep Guardiola ringing, offering him to get his coaching experience at Man City.

Those qualities were not obvious when he was a player.

Vermaelen (2012-2014)

On and off the pitch, the Belgian had all the attributes to be captain. Yet, ironically, the two years he wore the armband were where his influence were waning.

He lost form in the first half of 2013 which saw BFG and Koscielny become our regular partnership and then suffered an injury which he never truly recovered from.

He jointly lifted the FA Cup with his deputy Arteta to end the club’s trophy drought but by that point he was an afterthought.

Koscielny (2018-19)

Had been captain plenty of times in his role as vice-captain before he was officially announced as skipper for the 2018 season.

This was despite Unai Emery knowing the defender wouldn’t be fit til November and even then, it was argued he was being rushed back.

The manager may have not minded this, as he put faith in the controversial leadership group.

What the Frenchman lacked was his ability to order around his teammates. You couldn’t imagine him shouting at people in the dressing room.

Who was right and wrong regarding his exit is debatable to this day?

After an Achilles injury meant he could no longer play three times a week, he believed he had been promised a move back to France. It appears that agreement was with the previous regime.

Either way Koscielny should have gone on our preseason tour while a compromise could be reached. Essentially refusing to play has damaged his legacy.

Xhaka (2019-20)

For club and country it was obvious why you make him captain. Fearless on the ball, not afraid to take the risky pass, and by all accounts, very popular in the dressing room.

Yet part of being skipper is your relationship with the fanbase. Gooners have always been divided over the midfielder.

Having thrown away a 2-0 lead at home to Palace, the Swiss being subbed was met with ironic cheers, taunts and gestures from a portion of the Emirates. The player responded by cupping his hands to his ears before throwing down the arm band.

His refusal to apologise saw him stripped of the captaincy and he wouldn’t play for Emery again.

While he didn’t say sorry, he did disclose the kind of online abuse he and his wife had been subjected to. This included death threats and wishing cancer on his baby.

In a time where people are encouraged to speak about their mental health, it’s okay to me if, for one afternoon, a young man couldn’t take it anymore.

In my opinion fans who swear at players can’t cry when they get it back!

Gallas (2007-2009)

Gallas being captain of a young Arsenal squad made sense given what he had won at Chelsea. Yet clearly the defender struggled with the standards he found in a youthful Emirates dressing room compared to the more senior one he left at the Bridge.

Gallas lacked the leadership skills to help an inexperienced team get over the line.

In all our years since last being Champions, Gallas was in charge of a team who came so close but lacked game management at the crucial moments.

The Frenchman was right to wish he had more senior pros to help him guide youth, but equally it was part of his job to put arms round shoulders and boost confidence.

Instead he alienated his peers with comments in interviews and attitude behind the scenes.

His famous sit-down protest at Birmingham in 2008 summed up his Gunners tenure.

Instead of putting his arm round the shoulder of a young Clichy who conceded a stoppage time pen, he overreacted to a 2-2 draw that still meant we were top of the table.

Where would you put Auba in this list?

Be Kind in The Comments



  1. Well we may as well give the captaincy to someone we could do without as don’t want to put the curse on a ‘keeper’.
    Personally I’d likely give it to Tierney with Ramsey VC.

    Winners who lead by example and fight/give all for the badge. If a year later may have considered Gabriel as he also fits this mould and I like CB captains as they see a lot of the game ahead of them

  2. I think he did okay, because we won one minor trophy with his captaincy

    Sad it didn’t end well, but maybe his agent has already made some communications with Barcelona. Imagine having Arsenal paying you 150 K weekly and the rest is paid by Barcelona, while playing with Dembele in Catalonia

    1. Do you need to say “minor”? It’s a trophy with a long storied, history and Countries national Cup competitions are not considered minor by the players.

      I am very proud of every single FA Cup we have won and hope to win more

      1. I’m also proud of our FA Cup achievement. But it doesn’t change the difficulty level and the prize of that competition, as compared to EPL, UCL and EL

  3. From that list, in my mind anyway, there are only 2 real captains there…Adams and Vieira.

    There are some great players on that list but a great player doesn’t make you a great captain.

  4. The greats Tony, Patrick and Thierry are obvious great captains but on the rest I would say

    1. Fabregas was incredible. Captain at such a young age and passed with flying colours. Wenger’s announcement that Fabregas will be captain is the most surprising moment I have experienced as a football fan. My favourite however is

    2. Robin van Persie. Along with the greats Thierry and Dennis, he is one the most complete players I have ever seen. Unlucky with injuries, I often wonder what could have been.

    I loved him the most at the time when Arsenal players were showing fear and respect when playing some opponents, he did not.

    Van Persie did not show fear or respect to any defender of any club however big it was. When he was on the pitch he was the boss, the one to be feared, the one to be respected. It doesn’t matter if it was Barcelona or Norwich City. That is leading by example is all about.

    Van Persie did not fear the manager or the club hierarchy when he saw that they were not ambitious. He wanted them to be ambitious, he wanted them to win things for the fans.


  5. i’ve never once seen a rallying cry from Auba, and I question his intensity to win sometimes. We need the young players to be hungry to win, and if the captain isn’t too hungry then expectations will be lowered.

  6. Adams and Vieira.

    Then ones who lead by example RVP, Fabregas, Henry.

    Then the joke captains Auba, Xhaka, Gallas, Arteta.

  7. Auba comes after Van Persie and Fabregas.
    He is not as bad as some Irrational, biased and idiotic fans are trying to put it.
    Deserves a 7/10 score.

  8. I think the point should be how different recent captains are to what many consider “the standard.”
    Adams and Vieira are the standouts for me, I have seen nothing recently close to that leadership

    Auba wouldn’t dare be late a 2nd time, Ozil wouldn’t have coasted in so many games, players failing to press, celebrating draws against bottom half clubs, these are a few examples.

    what’s more, our frail mentality would not still be an issue, or failing to show intensity in far too many matches.

    We need an Adams or Vieira type captain now, someone to set the tone with our young core of players.

    By the way, I think Tomi is fantastic, and love what he brings to the team. The language barrier is an issue, but character, quality, and consistency is all spot on with the lad.

  9. Notable that our two great captains Frank McLintock and well before him, Joe Mercer, do not feature.
    Thats the trouble with so called greatest EVER lists, which in reality are not “EVER” at all. They never go back far enough and consequently exclude some of our true greatest captains ever.
    A more honest headline would have spoken of the greatest since the relatively recent days of Tony Adams.

    Because that is what has appeared, NOT the “greatest ever”.

    1. Premiership Era jon, it was for captains of the premier league. It does say it in the article. For me whatever i would jusy put Gallas last.

      1. Good noting Reggie! I hadn’t put that in thought till you pointed its the premiership era.
        Now if i may go further i may be interested in knowing your ranking of Auba in this list as Afc Captain. How do you think he performed?

        1. Paul, i dont think Auba was a good Captain, i would probably have him just above Gallas and just behind Xhaka.

      2. So Jon- are you not forever babbling on about how some posters just send their replies in without ever digesting what exactly they need to?
        Stevie Wonder would have read it was the Premiere League era the article clearly stated. Everyone bar yourself realised this. Just take your time a bit more old son. Rushing into getting your name in print embarrasses your when you get these things so very badly wrong

        1. Phil Notable how you were so singularly missing when it came to my well received “legal case” article which appeared on Monday.
          But suddenly, up you spring,when I make an error in not reading fully.
          My point still holds though, as a greatest captain article which goes back no more than twenty years ago, when Adams was STILL captaining us, is a farce.

          People of Dans age and younger, still think football and Arsenal began with the PREM. You(and I of course) do know better but how odd that you are not prepared to say so and only comment on my error! How delighted you must be!

          1. Jon- just try to learn from your mistakes that’s all. As I say, it saves you the embarrassment, most especially when you decide to abuse others who do the very same thing.
            And in regards your article? Thought it was very pretentious and so typical of you. Said a lot. But nothing to actually offer

  10. Lacazette as captain till end of season. After that and depending on form, choose next captain from Odegaard, Ramsdale, White, Gabriel and Tierney.

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