The goodwill and cheer surrounding Olivier Giroud’s arrival in Arsenalistan continues largely unabated, with the striker saying all the usual things that new signings say at a new club.
A convenient mention of Chelsea is an easy way to bring some smiles to fans. Remember Didier Zakora, he of much hyped midfield fame? The Ivorian joined Spurs after his agent had spuriously linked him to Arsenal to get a few extra quid in the pay packet, and he promptly thought it clever to say he ‘rejected’ Arsenal to play for Spurs. How they lapped that up. It worked out beautifully for all involved in the end.
With Giroud secured and Podolski snapped up, Arsenal are now half-way through their required tasks to complete a successful preseason. The priority now lies in finding a suitable defensive midfielder to challenge Alex Song, and signing captain Robin van Persie to a new deal. Failing that, at least holding onto the captain for one more year.
The two tasks go hand in hand. Part of selling the future to Robin lies as much in providing back-up to the goal-scoring threat (generating a lot of well-founded excitement at LadyArse) as much as providing a better anchor role in the team.
From my sporadic viewings of M’Vila, he strikes me a bit Denilson-ish, but with added physique and a better work rate. He’s very good at winning the ball and immediately off-loading it, crabtastically, to a nearby team-mate.
But if you’re looking for an improved version of the entire Alex Song package, you won’t find it. He is much better positionally, but perhaps won’t create as many opportunities as Song does.
But pair the two together with an attacking fulcrum in front of them (Rosicky, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain) and suddenly the Arsenal midfield looks just as formidable as Podolski-Giroud-RVP up front.
Of course, M’Vila does not have to be the answer. There are other targets, like Martinez or the very exciting Capoue (lauded during Arse2Mouse’s trip to Opta HQ) who could do an effective job as long as they held religiously to the job of sticking to defensive work.
By all rights, Song should have it drilled into his skull that he has a job to do at the back, but despite his flaws, I believe we’ve unearthed a gem of a player who should be praised for the hybrid nature of his work.
All Song now needs is a specialist partner. If Arsenal secure that – whether it be M’Vila, Martinez, Capoue or even Biglia – I think Arsenal have done their job as far as showing intent is concerned.
That puts the ball firmly in van Persie’s court. Is it a question of money, impatience, or the club showing ambition? Time will tell, but I do get annoyed by the hypothetical of van Persie being ‘frustrated’ by Arsenal’s lack of trophies when he, as a key player, has been missing at vital portions of so many seasons.
Nasri got on his soapbox before heading for City, ignoring his complete fade-out in the second half of 2010/11. Adebayor was oblivious to the fans’ deep frustrations over his effort and ego, and Clichy cost us so many points with his regular brain fades. But put proper work in as a collective for another team, and presto, you suddenly have a winner’s medal to go with your pay cheque.
Oversimplified, I know. But I do wish some players saw their contributions (or lack of) as reasons for a club’s misfortunes.
Van Persie by and large was the consummate professional throughout last season. The perfect captain who dragged us kicking and screaming into third place almost single-handedly. Arsenal look to be responding with some good player signings.
Now it’s time to show your hand, Rob.