Arsenal can challenge for the Premier League title next season if France's defensive midfield anchor Yann M'Vila is added to the Emirates Stadium playing staff for 2012/13, which has already been supplemented by the captures of Germany's Lukas Podolski (deal complete) and M'Vila's countryman Olivier Giroud. (90% done)
Rumours and speculation can often deceive in football, and when twitter exploded in early May after a French journalist tweeted that Rennes 21-year-old midfielder M'Vila was 99% certain to join Arsenal, Gunners fans threw caution towards the rumour-mill out of the window and began to dream of their new Patrick Vieira. However, it has become evident that no such deal was close to confirmation, and Arsenal's interest in the player seems to have cooled since the start of the Euro's.
Yet in the past days M'Vila's name has again been repeatedly linked with the North Londoners, and with Bayern Munich supposedly pulling out of the running time seems nigh to pounce and make him the club's full-time holding midfielder. This would allow Alex Song the freedom of central midfield to play the game he seems determined to oversee, which is as a deep-lying playmaker. M'Vila's signing would let Mikel Arteta fulfill his 'pivote' role that was so crucial to the side last season, and with Jack Wilshere returning from injury and Thomas Rosicky looking to continue last season's good form, Arsenal may have an embarrassment of riches in the middle of the park.
Emmanuel Frimpong is too raw and too interested in rapping to be trusted with a shirt holding such importance to the team
That approach may not have worked for Holland's forward line at Euro 2012, but at club level you can never have too much depth in your squad. Midfield is an area where Wenger's charges are often left short of numbers, and without Arteta holding fort last season the team looked a little flimsy. Adding M'Vila to this area would unshackle Song, offer a sturdy foundation for Arteta and let Wilshere return in his own time whilst relieving some of the pressure on Rosicky to hit the ground running again.
Reports are mixed about M'Vila's season just gone in France, with some raving about his form and potential, and others pouring cold water on suggestions he could be worth in excess of £15m. The ankle injury which ruled him out of the England - France clash didn't help, and his limited playing time in Poland and Ukraine has seen his reputation bob when it could have soared if fully-fit. Despite this he has been a key man for Rennes over the last three seasons, performing in most of the club's domestic games and he is young enough to improve in a position that the club are crying out for. It is now evident that Song's natural position is not anchoring the midfield, and his deputy Emmanuel Frimpong is too raw and too interested in rapping to be trusted with a shirt holding such importance to the team.
Adding M'Vila to a squad already set to contain Podolski and Giroud looks an impressive feat from Arsene Wenger. Podolski's signature was sealed a few months ago, and although he hasn't come alive fully yet for Germany in this summer's European Championship he has shown enough to suggest he will offer more consistency than Gervinho has managed on that left-flank in the past.
Giroud’s reported £12m acquisition is as mouth-watering as it is terrifying for Gooners. Will he be the best ever back-up striker to the now legendary Robin Van Persie? Or has Montpellier’s front-man been signed as a replacement for RVP?
Giroud's reported £12m acquisition is as mouth-watering as it is terrifying for Gooners. Will he be the best ever back-up striker to the now legendary Robin Van Persie? Or has Montpellier's front-man been signed as a replacement for RVP? I'm not sure yet, and I doubt Wenger is either. Hopefully Van Persie will stay, and if he does the team will have enough in their arsenal to challenge for the title.
Yes, Manchester United and Manchester City were the runaway players in a two-horse chase last year, but neither side has as of yet added to their ranks, and both teams have areas to address and were not infallible themselves last campaign. United look weak in central midfield and question marks remain over their central defenders without Vidic there to marshal proceedings. City were more impressive throughout the season (hence why they deserved to win the league) but even so have the potential to implode with Tevez, Balotelli, Nasri & co. knocking around. Arsenal may not have matched these sides' standards last season, but with a better start to this campaign they could keep pace with the Mancunian powerhouses.
Chelsea look set to offer resistance next year as Abramovich has fallen back in love with the club after their Champions League crusade, and is parking up at Stamford Bridge again to fire cold, hard cash at the issue. With Eden Hazard signed, Hulk set to move and the partnership of Mata and Torres allowed to flourish, the Blues will prove an obstacle for Arsenal in the coming season.
Abramovich has fallen back in love with the club after their Champions League crusade, and is parking up at Stamford Bridge again to fire cold, hard cash at the issue
But past that there aren't many challengers to worry about. Spurs will struggle more than Daniel Levy thinks now he has sacked good old 'Arry, Liverpool are undergoing a rebuilding job with Brendan Rodgers and Newcastle would do extremely well to repeat their heroic feats of 2011-12 again.
It's the classic saying for an Arsenal fan to tell everyone, "next year will be our year", but by adding M'Vila to Podolski and Giroud the side will have a starting eleven worthy of fighting for the Premier League. We must start the season better than last year - but even late RVP transfer turmoil would struggle to embroil the club like it did with Cesc and Nasri - as Giroud is ready to step in for him. And who knows, bring back Bendtner and we might have Giroud's back-up sorted too.
There are bound to be many twists and turns yet in this summer transfer window, but I'm foolish enough to make a sweeping statement towards the team I love. If Arsenal sign M'Vila on top of Podolski and Giroud we can challenge for the title. Come on Gooners it's time to believe again. Even if we are the only people that have faith in our team...
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