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With current captain Robin van Persie's future hanging in the balance, Willie Duncan looks at who might take the armband for the Gunners when the Premier League resumes

While speculation continues to mount about the immediate future of Arsenal captain Robin van Persie, manager Arsene Wenger’s focus will surely be on Arsenal’s trip to face Sunderland on the opening day of the Premier League season.

Of course, with the participation of Van Persie in doubt for that match, one of the decisions that the boss must make beforehand is who will captain the Gunners at Stadium of Light.

It does not appear to be a straightforward decision for the French manager and, thus, Paddy Power have opened a market on which Arsenal player will wear the captain’s armband on the opening day of the season.

Arsenal captain v Sunderland

Odds courtesy of Paddy Power
Thomas Vermaelen 4/7
Robin van Persie 9/4
Mikel Arteta 10/1
Bacary Sagna 12/1
 Jack Wilshere 20/1
Aaron Ramsey 33/1
The favourite for the honour is Thomas Vermaelen. The Belgian defender is the current vice-captain at Emirates and would be a natural successor to Van Persie as skipper.

However, Paddy Power's 4/7 (1.57) quote on Vermaelen to lead the side out might not represent outstanding value given that he is somewhat injury prone and has managed just 67 appearances in three seasons for the Gunners.

Of course, Van Persie may resume captain’s duties should he not leave Arsenal prior to the opening day clash with Sunderland and Paddy Power will reward those who believe that the striker will remain at the north London club with a tempting 9/4 (3.25) quote that the Netherlands striker leads the side out on the first day of the season.

Mikel Arteta comes next in the betting at 10/1 (11.0) while Bacary Sagna has been a stalwart for Wenger’s men in recent seasons.

He is chalked up at 16/1 (13.0) with Paddy Power to captain the Gunners at Sunderland but the broken leg which kept him out of Euro 2012 may well preclude him from the season’s opener too.

Wenger has a reputation for putting his faith in the younger players and, with that in mind, the 20/1 (21.0) quote from Paddy Power on Jack Wilshere to lead the side against Sunderland may tempt a few while Aaron Ramsey, who will represent Team GB at the Olympics this summer is another 20/1 (21.0) chance with the same firm.

There is no doubt that Vermaelen, if fit, is a deserving favourite here but Wenger will have a real dilemma should the Belgian not be fit to lead the side out on the opening day of the campaign and that could mean that value is on offer for punters here.

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Willie Duncan is a freelance sports journalist. Willie, from Edinburgh, has covered Scottish football for over 10 years and he specialises in football betting markets from across Europe. You can also follow Willie on Twitter here.

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