Patrick Vieira, the “captain of the invincibles”, is undoubtedly one of the best midfielders Arsenal have ever had. Many would agree that he was the engine behind Arsenals unbeaten campaign of 2003-04. Making 279 appearances for the club (scoring 29 goals) and winning 3 PL titles, 4 FA cups and 4 community shields, he is not only an Arsenal legend but also one of the greatest players to have played in the premier league.
When Arsene Wenger arrived at Arsenal in 1996, Vieira, then aged 20, was one of the first signings he made. After brief spells at Cannes and Milan, Vieira arrived at Highbury in a fee of around 3.5 million pounds. The promising youngster, with his tactical ability and aggressive nature, made huge impact in his first few games and quickly became a fan favourite. When Tony Adams retired in 2002, Vieira was made Arsenal captain. He guided the gunners through the 2003-04 unbeaten campaign and an FA cup victory the following season. Eventually, he left Arsenal in 2005 for Juventus in search of further glory. He certainly left a big void to fill.
Cesc Fabregas, the talented Spanish youngster was the man Arsenal relied on after the departure of Vieira. Despite of his talents, skills and passion, Fabregas couldn’t lead Arsenal to silverware and eventually returned to his boyhood club FC Barcelona. The following season, Alex Song, who also showed a lot of promise, followed Fabregas to join the Catalans. Now, with injury prone Abou Diaby and Jack Wilshere, and inconsistent performances in the past two seasons from Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta, Arsenal are sorely in need of a Vieira-like player if they are to challenge for the premier league title again.
Marouane Fellaini could just be the answer!
The towering midfielder from Everton, standing at 1.94 m and still only 25, could provide a solution to Arsenal’s midfield problems. The Belgian has scored 25 times in his 138 appearances for Everton along with 7 goals in 45 caps for his country. He certainly has the ability to be a playmaker scoring 11 times (with 7 assists) in the last season itself. But, he has also spoken of his desire to play the defensive midfielder, which, apparently is the role Vieira played for Arsenal. Fellaini also seems to have Vieira’s aggression which was evident after his headbutt against Ryan Shawcross last season, which led to a 3 match ban. Arsene Wenger seems to acknowledge Fellaini’s talent and has publicly spoken of his admiration of the player. Now recent speculations linking him to Arsenal could only lead to arsenal fans jumping off their seats!
Yes, he could be the ideal replacement for Vieira. With Fellaini and a top class striker (possibly Higuain), Arsenal could might well be on the track for premier league glory! Playing against the top clubs of Europe (in champions league) and under the mentorship of Wenger, Fellaini could only flourish! What arsenal need is consistency and players like Fellaini can definitely help that happen. Ultimately, what Wenger decides remains to be seen!