Mesut Ozil named Arsenal co-captain by boss Unai Emery
LONDON -- Arsenal boss Unai Emery has made Laurent Koscielny captain of the club despite his long-term injury, and named Mesut Ozil among his four other co-captains.
Emery has said all summer that he would name five captains of the squad, with Koscielny now named as the No. 1 among them even though the centre-back isn't expected back until December at the earliest because of a torn Achilles tendon.
The other four captains are goalkeeper Petr Cech and midfield trio Aaron Ramsey, Ozil and Granit Xhaka, Emery revealed on Friday.
"This morning, I give them [the squad] the official captain. First, he is injured but he is also captain of this group, is Koscielny," Emery said ahead of Sunday's Premier League opener against Manchester City. "In my career, I want leaders in the team. ... It's natural these five players are in the position to be captain."
Koscielny usually wore the armband last season as well, as club captain Per Mertesacker rarely played. Emery had hinted at his choice of the other four during preseason, as Cech, Ramsey, Ozil and Xhaka were all captain for at least one game.
Spreading out the responsibility of shouldering a leadership role could be a way to tackle what was a chronic problem under Wenger, when the Gunners were often accused of lacking natural leaders and a winning mentality in big games. Arsenal also signed veteran defenders Stephan Lichtsteiner -- who is the Switzerland captain -- and Sokratis Papastathopoulos, who are also seen as strong personalities both on and off the pitch.
Emery said he is working hard toward instilling a new mentality in the team, but that it could take time.
"I want one thing, because it's very important for us and for the player, is take confidence. Confidence in our work, confidence in himself," Emery said. "I have confidence in myself, and also I can give them the confidence. But then also we need to build [a mentality] and it isn't a thing you find quickly. You need building it up in time."
Emery also dodged a question about whether Wenger has sent him any messages at all going into the season, saying only that he wants to build on the Frenchman's legacy. Emery became Arsenal's first new manager since 1996 after Wenger stepped down in May following a 22-year reign.
"The past is very important in this club, with the people that were working here. But we are starting a new way, and a new process," he said. "And [we are] keeping a lot of the good ideas they were working with here, and also bringing my new [ideas] for how to improve in the tactical things, or my idea to transmit to the players my spirit."
Emery faces a trial by fire against the defending champions in the opening game, and said that game will give a better indication of whether the Gunners can compete for the title this season.
"The match is going to give us the information [of what] is our level," he said. "But we want to play with the idea to create a winning mentality. ... I believe in me, I believe in the players, I believe in the club. But then we are going to watch Sunday, how is the response of the team against Manchester City. But my idea is to give us the best performance quickly."