Perhaps Unai Emery’s biggest mistake, since arriving at Arsenal, was naming 5 captains: 1) Granit Xhaka, 2) Petr Cech, 3) Aaron Ramsey, 4) Mesut Ozil and 5) Laurent Koscielny. Did no one tell the new boss that the captain’s armband is cursed. Maybe even the word ‘captain’ is cursed.
However, I can see why he did it. At most clubs, the honour of being made skipper would ‘spur’ (if I am allowed to use that word) on the player to achieve a better performance. Captains usually lead by example. At Arsenal, that no longer seems to be the case.
Of course, no one can fault the ‘real’ captain, Koscielny; he’s played through his injuries, which is why now he faces time in the sickbay recovering. Whether or not he’ll be the same player again is a moot point but, for now, he’s a spectator only. The question is was the injury caused by the curse of the captain or just by the foolhardy practice of ‘playing through an injury’. If you do that, there is only one winner: the injury. Verdict: The Curse of the Werewolf Doctors.
Now let’s move onto the stand-in captains. Firstly, there’s want-away Ramsey, who is still not often being played in his right position, which is just behind the striker. I have some hope that this will happen, now that the undroppable Ozil has been subbed. Verdict: The Curse of the ‘Want-Away’.
Although named as a honorary skipper, Ozil has not delivered this season. A goal in the pre-season is all Arsenal have had from the ex-Germany international. The number ten needs to up the ante, as he’s in danger of finding himself sitting on the subs’ bench. It often looks like Ozil is not seriously trying to win the ball back for his team, which is baffling to say the least. I do understand that he wants to reserve his best efforts for going forward, but how is that going to happen if Arsenal can not win back possession after losing it? Ozil’s seeming lack of effort is alarming, especially for one of the five captains. Verdict: The Curse of the Lazy Prodigious Talent.
One captain who always tries is Cech. The veteran keeper is an old dog trying to learn a new trick, with his ungainly attempts at playing the ball out from the back. Cech is still an amazing shot-stopper, but it seems his days are numbered. Verdict: The Curse of the Ancient Net Guardian.
Finally, let’s consider Xhaka: a midfielder who can do everything yet nothing expertly, except kick the ball into touch by mistake, when he’s having an off day. Verdict: The Curse of the Mediocre £35m Midfielder.
The next question is can these curses be broken? The answer lies in the transfer market and thanks to the new regulations, Arsenal are stuck with these curses until January 2019.