Olivier Giroud

by Liam McConville

As the festival of football that is the European Championships continues in Poland and Ukraine, Arsenal are reportedly close to landing another exciting signing. The Montpellier forward, Olivier Giroud is set to move to North London for a fee of £13million. Giroud, whose twenty-one league goals helped fire the French side to their first ever Ligue 1 title last year, could be the final piece in a new, exciting, Arsenal forward line.

Lukas Podolski has already joined and if Arsenal can finally end the Robin Van Persie contract saga by getting him to commit to the club, they could have the making of a tantalising forward line, capable of landing the silverware that the fans crave. Of course at the moment it is only an if that the Dutchman will be at the Emirates next season. It seems that Van Persie wants to stay but his own desire to win trophies may lead to him thinking that he can wait no more, Italian giants, Juventus look like a the most probable destination if he does choose to leave.

The fate of the Arsenal skipper will reflect the ambition of the club that he has served for eight years. Arsene Wenger is clearly trying to show that the club can reach the levels that Van Persie expects with an uncharacteristic spending spree. Wenger has also been linked with another rising French talent, Yann M’Vila. It will take around £17million to take the defensive midfielder from Rennes. It would certainly be a great signal of intent from Arsenal and show that the debacle of August 2011 truly was a watershed moment.

Although Arsenal finished nineteen points behind both Manchester clubs they showed signs that they could be a major force once more. The emergence of Wojciech Szezesny as the dominant, dependable goalkeeper that Arsenal has been crying out for was a big boost. The way that Alex Song performed and his link-up play with Van Persie was another encouraging indication that Arsenal can challenge for the title again.

Wenger also has two of England’s brightest prospects in his squad. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looked like he was born to play on the biggest stage, his mature performance against A.C. Milan in the second leg of the Champions League tie showed what he’s capable of. Jack Wilshere will return hungrier than ever after missing the entire 2011/2012 campaign. His recovery from injury will feel like another new signing in what looks like an increasingly strong Arsenal first XI.

Arsenal’s strength in depth can certainly be called into question; a big problem for them was the injury crisis that left them with no fit full backs for the beginning of 2012. Bacary Sagna will be missing for the start of next season after breaking his leg in the penultimate game of the season and Wenger must respond by signing defensive cover. Current French star and Lille right-back Mathieu Debuchy is a possibility although Arsenal will have to fight off plenty of interest if they are to land the highly coveted twenty-six year old.

The loss of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri was keenly felt; the way that Arsenal reacted has to be admired. From the ashes of the 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford emerged a new team, although there were setbacks, third place and automatic Champions League qualification represents a good season given the circumstances. However the focus now has to be on next season, they have the making of a title winning side, with a few additions the potential of trophies could be replaced by actual silverware.

Manchester City, Manchester United and European champions Chelsea will all be very strong next year as the competition at the top intensifies. If they can have luck and avoid the injuries that they endured this year they will be halfway there. Arsenal fans can get excited again but first they must tie down Van Persie, after the season that the Dutchman’s had, it will be the most important signing they can make. Then, maybe next season might finally be the one where it all clicks together and Arsenal could be champions again.