Arsenal travel to Anfield on Wednesday night for a Carabao Cup fourth-round tie with Liverpool. In light of recent events, Granit Xhaka will not travel with the squad and whilst we can all speculate over who should or should not be given the armband there’s only one standout candidate.
Hector Bellerin was named on the substitutes bench versus Crystal Palace on Sunday as he continues to recover from a long-term knee injury that has seen him sidelined since January. The Spaniard is predicted to start the game at right-back with the view to reclaiming his place in the Premier League side and so giving him the responsibility would make perfect sense.
The 24-year-old has himself been on the receiving end of criticism from the volatile Arsenal fan base but spoke out about it articulately, calmly and played his way through it. Bellerin left his native Spain and joined Arsenal in 2011 and has developed into one of the clubs most influential players both on and off the field.
A modern-day leader
When Arsenal fans reminisce in regards to captains of yesteryear they will often talk of Patrick Vieira and Tony Adams, two ‘hard-men’ who led by example and gave everything each and every time they took to the field. Whilst Bellerin certainly isn’t one of football’s ‘hard-men’ perhaps he represents the modern-day captain the club are crying out for.
Somebody who understands what the club means to its supporters, can communicate articulately in the way the modern-day football fan demands and shows the club in a good light off the field. Bellerin has spoken out in regards to climate change, mental health and various other subjects in recent times – portraying himself and the club in a good light.
That may not mean much to your every day traditionalist football fan but from a clubs point of view, Bellerin’s exemplary behaviour away from the pitch makes him a commercial dream. Being a captain in the modern era isn’t about shouting the loudest in the dressing room, intimidating opponents and smashing into 50:50 challenges. In Arsenal’s case, it’s about representing one of the sports great institutions, performing to a consistent level and managing the ever-changing relationship between players and fans – something Hector has shown himself to be brilliant at.
His tweet on Monday morning regarding the Xhaka incident being the latest example of his ability to convey calm and poignant messages and how that can go a long way in diffusing uncomfortable situations. An appointment like that could assist in uniting the fans, unlike that of Xhaka which seemed to stir the anger and abuse that surfaced on Sunday.
We are all humans, we all have emotions, and sometimes it’s not easy dealing with them. It’s time to lift each other up, not to push each other away. We only win when we are together. #COYG pic.twitter.com/dkDI7M3xew
— Héctor Bellerín (@HectorBellerin) October 28, 2019
Why not give him a shot – suitable candidates are few and far between. It makes sense.