We need another Patrick Viera in our midfield By SK
In recent games, we have been bullied and out muscled by the midfield players of any team we come we play. Against Chelsea, our midfield was virtually non-existent. Against Bayern, I kept asking the fella by my side if Arsenal had midfielders playing in the game or not? There are several games this season where I have been disappointed with the quality of play by our midfielders. Enough of the bullying! Enough of being out muscled! We need a Vieira ASAP!
On 10 August 1996, the Daily Mirror reported that Vieira was subject to a move to English club Arsenal, given personal terms with original suitors Ajax were not reached. He joined Arsenal four days later in a £3.5 million move. The peculiarity of Vieira and fellow Frenchman Rémi Garde arriving at the club, coupled with manager Bruce Rioch’s dismissal before the season had begun, suggested that Arsenal was managed by exterior influence. Vieira later revealed he signed for Arsenal because his compatriot Arsène Wenger was going to be the club’s next manager: “I am delighted to be joining Arsenal at the same time as Mr. Wenger becomes their coach. Being able to speak French to him will make life a lot easier for me.” Wenger was officially in command of managerial affairs at Arsenal by the start of October, but Vieira had already made his mark, coming on as a substitute against Sheffield Wednesday on 16 September 1996; The Times described him as a “thinking man’s Carlton Palmer … who, at last, gives the Arsenal midfield some variety. “It’s been a while since we’ve had a midfield player who looks at the front man’s run first and then looks at other options. He makes dream passes forward and he’s already put me in several times.” Said Ian Wright at that time, as a testimony to Vieira’s versatility.
Vieira made his full debut against Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium, three days after. He scored his first goal for the club against Derby County on 8 December 1996 – a late equalizer in a 2–2 draw. His performances for Arsenal in the subsequent months made him a fans’ favourite and was lauded as “…the playmaker Arsenal have sought since Paul Davis pulled the strings in the 1991 championship-winning team.” Davis himself noted that in the matches Vieira was suspended during the Christmas period, Arsenal struggled to win. He ended his first season with 38 appearances in total and Arsenal finished in third place, missing out on a spot in the UEFA Champions League via goal difference.
Throughout his stay at Arsenal, Vieira impressed and there was hardly a match he played in, that Arsenal lost the midfield battle to an opponent. His presence was always felt in the big games, especially against Manchester United, whom also had a die-hard midfielder in Roy Keane. His bust ups with Keane was always the talk of town, whenever Arsenal had a game against Manchester United. He left Arsenal in 2005 and ever since then, we have found it hard replacing him.
The Arsenal of today needs a person like Vieira in our midfield. A person who can stand up to other team’s midfielders. A person who can rally the team to victory, even when they are mentally and emotionally down. Against Bayern Munich, a player like Vieira would have yelled, gingered and motivated the players to improve on their game that night! A player who won’t just sulk and feel down when the game is not going in his favour, would have won the game for us or at the least, drawn the game.
Francis Coquelin is one player I feel could do such a job but as of now, he is not showing the leadership quality needed for such a role. So what can we do to get such a player? We need to buy a solid defensive or a box to box midfielder who can give our midfield an edge, especially when we are down and fallen! Who agrees?