Patrick Vieira: Arsenal’s Missing Rib
With Arsene Wenger remaining at Arsenal as manager for another two seasons, the odds on the North London club, as shown on Ladbrokes free bet, to win the Premier League next season is high.
At the time of writing Arsenal are available as a big as 16/1 and sixth in the outright betting behind 2/1 favourites Manchester City, Chelsea and Man Utd are on offer at 7/2, with Tottenham at 10/1.
Coincidentally, Arsenal have not won another Premier League title since Patrick Vieira left the club in 2005. The former France international captained the 2003/2004 invincible to Premier League glory in 2004, which was the season they last won the league.
Last season, Arsenal did not only missed the Premier League but we were also dumped out of the qualification spots for the Champions League next season as we could only settle for the fifth place on the league standings.
Still at his former club Nagoya Grampus, Wenger influenced Vieira’s signing and ensured that his compatriot moved ahead of him to Arsenal then at Highbury.
Vieira moved to Arsenal from AC Milan in August 1996 at the age of 20 for £3.5 million and became the driving force Wenger’s success in his first decade at the club as the club won three league title and four FA Cups during the period.
Vieira unceremoniously left the club for Juventus in 2005 and 12 years after he had left, Wenger has signed a number of players to fill the void created by him but none of them has been able to replicate his performances. Obviously and arguably, Wenger inability to replace the midfield Marshall has caused the club’s downward turn and many also belong to that school of thought.
Mathieu Flamini was signed a year before Vieira’s departure but after one outstanding season in 2007/2008, the midfielder hid in his shell never to come out again until he left for free to AC Milan. His second spell in a Gunners shirt was not impressive enough to write about it.
Cesc Fabregas who inherited Vieira’s shirt number and also became the club’s captain would have successfully stepped into the Frenchman’s shoe but pressure on him seemingly made Arsenal not to enjoy his talents, besides he lack the physicality to move box to box like Vieira and eventually he returned to Barcelona.
From AbouDiaby, Alex Song to Mikel Arteta, failure to replace Vieira has appeared to be the bane of Wenger’s second decade at the Emirates stadium. Last summer £35 million recruitment from Borussia Mochengladbach Granit Xhaka was expected to finally be the man but the Swiss midfielder has not actually shown any sign of taking up that role.
Vieirahad arrived Highbury as a relatively unknown player but blossomed into one of the finest player in the world in his position. He handled the heart of Gunners midfield with eye-catching performances, winning the ball and distributing the ball effectively.
The 6ft 4ins former captain was vital in the Gunners’ attack as the quality of his passing and composure did quell the threat of the opposition. Arsenal did not lose a match at the Emirates Stadium during his time at the club and won the double (the premier league and the FA Cup) twice.
Apart from his on-field performances, his leadership qualities is yet to be seen again both on the field and in the dressing room.
Vieira will always be on the mind of Arsenal fans.