At the start of the century, Arsenal were one of the most energetic and exciting clubs in the English Premier League. The north Londoners wanted to make waves in Europe, and thanks to the great Arsene Wenger, they certainly made heads turn.
Over the last five years, Arsenal have fallen a lot behind the competition. Not only are they anonymous in Europe, but they have also been reduced to a mid-table club in the Premier League. The Gunners need some inspiration to bounce back and a captain who can lead by example.
Today, we are taking a look at five Arsenal players who led the way, even before getting the armband.
Here are the top five captains Arsenal have had this century:
#5 Mikel Arteta
Current Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta was a player of sheer class and elegance, the perfect player to represent Wenger’s values on the pitch.
After establishing himself as a star in the Premier League, Arteta moved to north London from Everton in 2011. Following the departure of Robin van Persie in 2012-13, Arteta became the club’s vice captain.
His inspirational midfield play sealed Arsenal’s 17th-consecutive top-four finish that season and was chosen as the club’s fourth-best player for his contributions.
Arteta won the armband permanently in the 2014-15 season and immediately led Arsenal to the FA Community Shield.
Unfortunately, the rise of new talents reduced the captain’s game-time and he eventually called it a day at the end of the 2015-16 campaign.
#4 Robin van Persie
Thanks to his controversial move to Manchester United in 2012-13, Arsenal fans don’t give Robin van Persie the respect he had rightfully won. They see him as a player who abandoned his side in times of need and was ultimately rewarded for his ‘betrayal’.
Van Persie joined Arsenal from Feyenoord in 2004 as a young, versatile left-winger with an eye for goal. Arsene Wenger took the player under his wing and successfully turned him into one of the most vicious forwards in football.
Van Persie not only scored for fun at Arsenal, but he was also always there to pick up his teammates after conceding a goal. His commitment eventually made him vice-captain and later captain, following Cesc Fabregas’ departure ahead of the 2011-12 season.
The Gunners were not in the best of form that season, but Van Persie scored 30 goals in the Premier League. Thanks to his Golden Boot-winning haul, he became Arsenal’s eighth all-time leading scorer with 132 goals.