Manchester United must beat Arsenal to £10m Barca star

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Football News

The contrasting fortunes of Manchester United and Arsenal this season can be in part put down to the differing levels of quality in their respective midfields.

Whilst Arsenal, comfortably boosted by the summer acquisitions of Mesut Ozil and Mathieu Flamini, can boast one of the most complete man for man midfields in Europe at the current time, United are some way off the strength needed to consistently win at the highest level.

One glance at the starting individuals across the middle of the park for both teams this weekend tells you all you need to know.

Arsene Wenger was afforded the luxury of leaving the likes of Tomas Rosicky, the aforementioned Flamini and Theo Walcott on the subs bench, opting for a five-man midfield that consisted of Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla.

Paling in comparison were the four who Moyes sent forth against Newcastle; Adnan Januzaj, Tom Cleverley, Phil Jones and Nani.

Whilst Januzaj can boast raw talent in abundance and Jones is a notoriously hard-worker, Cleverly and Nani are serial under-performers, and neither would stake a claim to a starting position in any other top four team.

But while the emphasis surrounding Old Trafford in the wake of their 1-0 defeat at St. James' Park may be focused on who Moyes is looking to get rid of in January, in my mind the more crucial question is the one that concerns who he is bringing in. With regards to this specific article that's a question that coincidentally involves Arsenal and the race for Alex Song.

Barcelona's Cameroon star has unsurprisingly failed to make the grade amongst the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas since moving from the Emirates in 2012, and has subsequently seen himself linked with a return to the Premier League.

According to reports it's former club Arsenal and Manchester United that are the two heavyweights set to battle it out for him, but it's the latter who in my mind need him far more.

Moyes' requisite for a combative midfielder is plain for all to see, and Song has the experience and credentials necessary to have a genuine impact at Old Trafford. He may not have hit the dizzy heights that are usually expected from a player when they earn a transfer to the Nou Camp, but fans shouldn't forget the form that got him there in the first place.

Not only that, but capturing Song from the under the noses of his former club, and more pertinently he former mentor in Arsene Wenger, would send out a message that United are far from finished in terms of rivalling their London enemies every step of the way.

If they are going to climb out of the hole that their early seasonal infelicities have pushed them into then the Red Devils have to buy players who are experienced in the Premier League, have the battling nature needed to come up trumps when against the odds, and also have the flair and ability to be a genuine threat going forward. Song ticks all of these boxes and, for a mooted fee of £10million, is definite value for money.

On the other hand if Arsenal can re-sign the man they once sold to Catalonia, they would not only strengthen the depth of their own midfield to a point where they could comfortably survive all but the very worst bouts of mid-season injury crisis, but they would also inflict yet another transfer defeat on an already dejected, demoralised and frankly disorganised United.

It may only surround the future of one player, but Song's transfer battle could either serve as a timely reminder of the power shift that's being witnessed in the Premier League this season - or alternatively stand to act as the precipitant for hope to Moyes when it matters most.

If you're a United fan, pray for the second of those two options.

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Alex Song
Premier League
Manchester United

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