The most unArsenal of Junes

Giroud signs for Arsenal

Sometimes you need some great news to kick off a new project. That little boost comes in the form of a shiny new signing.

Olivier Giroud is officially an Arsenal player. The French forward has signed on the proverbial ‘long-term contract for an undisclosed fee‘ (reportedly matching Montpellier’s £13 million release clause) and joins an incredibly long list of Arsenal forwards.

For the record, that list is: van Persie, Podolski, Giroud, Chamakh, JY Park, Gervinho, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Miyaichi, Bendtner, Arshavin and Afobe. Not all of those players will be Gunners next season and a good chunk will play as wide men, but the sheer volume of winger-strikers leaves a lot open to interpretation.

I remember an old highschool mate of mine – a genuine, lifelong Chelsea fan from way before their trophy-purchasing days – making the most prophetic observation in 2001 that Arsenal “had a lot of good, young forwards”. Nothing more than that. But it would be the year where Arsenal wrestled the title from Man United and grab the FA Cup for good measure with one of the most rotated squads you’ll ever see, banging in goals for fun along the way.

Today, we find a similar situation with plenty of young forward players led by van Persie (the eldest at 29 years). The important step of tying the captain down to a new deal begins again after Holland’s Euro exit, but on the assumption we have him for one more year, good times could lie in wait for 2012/13.

The signings of Lukas Podolski and now Giroud are exciting ones. By no means are we done yet, but to have two major signings before June has even finished is the most unArsenal post-season I’ve seen in donkey’s years.

Even as far back as the 2001/02 season, we only snared Sol Campbell (a huge signing, no less), before snapping up Edu in January. 2002 was all about Gilberto Silva, while the unbeaten season was prefaced by Jens Lehmann’s arrival as Wenger focussed on renewing contracts with key players.

2004 saw little known Matthieu Flamini and a raw Robin van Persie sign up while Alex Hleb followed the following June.

Tomas Rosicky was the last real ‘star’ to join Arsenal in preseason (Arshavin, while certainly a name, was a January signing in 2009), but that season’s preparations were largely dominated by the Ashley Cole saga, which brought in another name in William Gallas on transfer deadline day. You have to go forward to 2008 before another remotely well-known player in Samir Nasri was signed, though that preseason also included the likes of Aaron Ramsey (good) and Mikael Silvestre (words cannot describe…)

Back in the present, and Arsenal have secured global name Podolski and much-hyped Giroud in double quick time. Easily a lesson learnt from Fab’nNasri-gate last year. Giroud comes with some major backing from French football expert Philipe Auclair, who gives a stirling review on Arsenal’s official site.

Furthermore, the video on Arsenal Player reveals something not many would know about Olivier: the man has easily one of the coolest autographs going round.

Giroud's autograph

Reasons to smile: two new strikers!

Meanwhile, the chances of signing Rennes holding midfielder Yann M’Vila look a little shakier than before with reports emerging of his role in France’s hissy-fit with coach Laurent Blanc.

Arsene Wenger has taken punts on players with attitude problems before, but while it’s popular to say “if anyone can sort him out, Wenger can”, I’m inclined to disagree. Emmanuel Adebayor and William Gallas being cases in point. Adebayor, while an effective player, was a disaster for team-morale, while Gallas’s famous Roy Keane moment in laying bare all the problems in the Arsenal squad did not go down well with the manager. Hardly a criticism of Wenger, seeing as Alex Ferguson shipped Keane out in double quick time after the former United skipper’s dummy spit.

This is the first I’ve really heard of personality issues with M’Vila. If that is indeed the case, you can expect Arsenal’s scouts to have a compiled their usual dossier with ridiculous detail on the player’s mental state of affairs. If it is indeed just the one blot on an otherwise acceptable record, the deal may still be possible. That’s assuming it’s even true.

Finally, some good news for the Nigerian contingent of Arsenal fans – the opponents for the Abuja friendly is none other than the Nigerian national team. Plenty of clubs have played Malaysian XIs and the Indonesian national side, but it’s the stuff of pure Playstation dreams to have a club side playing against a well-established name in international football.

Anyone ever play Arsenal v France in FIFA2002? Soccer meets Being John Malkovich.

Anyways, how about a little Nigerian magic to end the day? Have a great one, wherever you are.

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