Saturday, September 28, 2019

There has been much debate about the captaincy at Arsenal in recent weeks.

Never, though, do we hear quarrel about the wearer of the armband on the other side of North London.

Perhaps it is time to start that discussion. Hugo Lloris is the skipper in these parts, appointed by Mauricio Pochettino in the summer of 2015.

It is said that the bond between manager and captain is unbreakable. The former stood by the latter following his drink-driving ban last year and Pochettino even has a gift from Lloris in his office, a replica of the World Cup trophy lifted by the France skipper in 2018.

But it was on that day in Moscow, one that should rank as the greatest of Lloris’ career, that he made an uncharacteristic mistake which, in the time since, has become somewhat characteristic.

At PSV, Barcelona, Chelsea and Liverpool last season he was culpable of giving away costly goals. Unforced errors do not look good for one who should be leading by example. Trust, you suspect, must surely erode on the back of such calamity.

In the World Cup final, Lloris gifted Croatia a goal when attempting to dribble away from Mario Mandzukic, who poked the ball into the unguarded net. With France already leading 4-1, the blunder has since been relegated to a footnote in the story of the final.

But Lloris was at it again here, at a time when his side least needed a needless concession. Southampton’s Danny Ings was the beneficiary of his brain-fade after the keeper failed to take the ball with him when attempting a Cruyff turn inside the six-yard area. It was a horrendous gaffe.

That left 10-man Spurs at 1-1 approaching half-time with the spotlight very much on the manager. How the Southampton supporters revelled in a chant of, ‘You’re getting sacked in the morning’ towards their former boss.

Enter Harry Kane, the England skipper and the man who again took the heat off Pochettino with what proved to be the winning goal just before the break. That is what captains do, they come good in bad situations.

In fairness to Lloris, he produced two fine saves in the second half, but it was Kane who bailed his side out, and not for the first time.

Could it be that a change of skipper is considered at the end of this season, especially if that means bestowing an honour upon Kane that could persuade him to remain at the the club in the long term?

For now, Kane wears the look of the captain and that much was evident in the closing stages, protecting the ball and the lead as he relieved pressure amid a late rally from the visitors.

It is something for Pochettino to think about at least, if indeed he sees out the season himself.


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