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Paul Merson criticises Unai Emery’s captain policy, names his preferred candidate for role

David Luiz

Paul Merson believes David Luiz should be chosen as Arsenal’s permanent captain.

Granit Xhaka has worn the armband so far this season, but Unai Emery plans to name five players who will share the role after Tuesday’s EFL Cup third-round clash with Nottingham Forest.

Emery chose Petr Cech, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, Laurent Koscielny and Xhaka as his quintet of options last term, but three of those players have since departed the Emirates Stadium.

Merson believes the Gunners boss should only choose one skipper and has nominated Luiz as the best man for the job, despite the fact he only joined Arsenal (opens in new tab) this summer.

“The worrying thing for me is I heard the manager say he's going to have five captains, which tells me he has no idea what his team is,” Merson, who won two league titles as an Arsenal player, told Sky Sports.

“Unai Emery's been there a year-and-a-half; he's got to have five captains because he doesn't have a clue what his best team is. He hasn't got a clue. The good teams are the ones who play virtually the same team every week, but with Arsenal you don't know who it'll be from week to week.

“David Luiz has got to be captain, he's a serial winner. People have a go at him because one week he'll be a 2/10 and the next a 9/10, but he's going to play every week.

“I'm not the greatest lover of a forward being the captain, but [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang's another one. Those front three should pick themselves straight away and you go from there - they'll play every week, if they're fit.”

Merson also leapt to the defence of Xhaka, who was jeered by some Arsenal supporters during Sunday’s 3-2 victory over Aston Villa (opens in new tab).

The Switzerland international was substituted in the 72nd minute, a decision which was greeted with ironic cheers from sections of the home support.

“I had a bit of a go at Xhaka the other week, but I don't like fans booing their players,” the former midfielder said.

“It's not right and it's not Arsenal. You've got to have a bit more class than that. He's never stopped trying and even though I had a go at him, you can't be booing your own players.”

After Tuesday’s clash with Forest, Emery’s side are next in action against Manchester United (opens in new tab) next Monday.


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Greg Lea
Greg Lea

Greg Lea is a freelance football journalist who's filled in wherever FourFourTwo needs him since 2014. He became a Crystal Palace fan after watching a 1-0 loss to Port Vale in 1998, and once got on the scoresheet in a primary school game against Wilfried Zaha's Whitehorse Manor (an own goal in an 8-0 defeat).