Shape Of Things To Come At Arsenal?
So Yann M’Vila is Arsenal bound – or to be precise, he’s 99% certain to join the Gunners this summer. They say there’s no smoke without fire – and if there’s 99% smoke, surely the entire building is up in flames?
I’ve rarely seen him play over the past year and You Tube highlights are capable of making Amaury Bischoff look like the next best thing since baked beans. But from the little I have seen and the glowing reports about the French midfielder, he certainly seems to be worth the £17m we are reportedly going to shell out – a handsome ransom indeed.
The 21-year old has admitted he likes to keep things simple and is not fond of fancy flicks and dodgy dribbles. He’s exactly the kind of disciplined deep-lying midfielder fans have been calling for, now that Alex Song has decided to try to fill Cesc Fabregas’ boots.
Arsenal have been vulnerable at the back all season with or without Mikel Arteta. The Frenchman would definitely provide more protection for the defense. But I feel the attribute Arsene Wenger admires most in M’Vila is his ability to find teammates with long forward balls, switching defense into attack within a split second. That quality may prove very useful indeed to Arsenal’s quick counter attacking play next season.
It also poses questions about how Arsenal will shape up next season. Ideally, the formation should change according to the opposition, but Arsene Wenger generally prefers other teams to adapt to our tactics.
There’s been talk recently of reverting to the 4-4-2 system, especially since we’ve found it difficult to break down Wigan, Chelsea and Stoke. My friend Dave Seager is convinced that’s the way to go, do follow his blog as he’s going to post a more detailed article on the topic soon.
For me, Podolski’s arrival actually signals Arsene’s intent to continue with three up front. The German is too similar to Robin van Persie to play alongside the captain and playing him as a left-sided midfielder would mean Arsenal are likely to concede possession in the midfield.
I suspect Arsene may only slightly tweak the 4-2-1-3 being played now to a 4-1-2-3 next season. Yann M’Vila would be the preferred deep-lying midfielder with Song, Arteta and Coquelin as back ups. For the two attacking midfield positions in front of M’Vila, it would be a competition between two of Wilshere, Rosicky, Diaby and Ramsey – although Arteta and Song would also be in that mix as both possess creative abilities too.
In yesterday’s article, Mean Lean of Arsenal Vision reckons the signings of Podolski and M’Vila are actually delayed actions from last summer. While the theory has some credence, I for one see this as a shift in Arsenal’s transfer mentality.
In the past we’ve waited until the last day to get the best deals – both for incomings and outgoings. It has always been questionable whether saving a million quid here or there is really worth the anxiety associated with deadline day deals. Last summer really brought forth the pitfalls of this strategy, the uncertainty and negativity contributing as much to early season results as the quite lengthy list of the walking wounded.
Therefore, I’m a bit worried about the reported price tag for M’Vila. While Podolski is a very Wenger-type signing at just over £10m and we will surely see the departure of one or both of Chamakh and Park in the summer, such a high transfer fee for a defensive midfielder indicates to me that we should brace ourselves for one or two high-profile departures in order to fund these moves.
Also, while all the talk has been about Robin van Persie’s contract extension, it’s easy to forget that both Theo Walcott and Alex Song also have just one year left on their agreements. If M’Vila is signed, we have to assume that the Cameroonian will be the one most under pressure to retain a place in the starting eleven. With a host of continental clubs interested in him, could Sunday be the last opportunity for Arsenal fans to revel in yet another Song-over-the-top-to-RvP-and-he-scores moment?
As the club is doing most things at a rapid pace lately, I think we won’t have to wait too long for an answer.
Back tomorrow with more thoughts on the Arsenal.