Last season, Arsenal finished third in the English Premier League, but at 70 points, the Gunners were 19 behind Manchester City and Manchester United. Thanks to the addition of midfielder Santi Cazorla, however, Arsenal will be a true threat to the Manchester rivals in 2012/13.
According to John Cross of Mirror Football, Cazorla, formerly of Malaga, has agreed to a four-year, £20 million transfer to Arsenal, passed a physical and is all but signed, sealed and delivered in terms of becoming a member of the Gunners.
The 27-year-old midfielder had a solid season in his first year with Malaga, but financial issues necessitated the move for the La Liga club. The Arsenal brass knew that it had to make some significant improvements from last season in order to compete for an EPL title, and nabbing Cazorla may be the final piece of the puzzle.
Talk of a potential Robin van Persie transfer to Juventus, Manchester City, Manchester United or elsewhere has dominated news for Arsenal this offseason, but the Gunners have had a very strong transfer period despite that.
Will the Cazorla signing make Arsenal a top EPL title contender?
Rather than resting on its laurels and waiting for something to develop on the RVP front, the Gunners have brought in talented players such as Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and now Cazorla. Even if Van Persie is moved, Arsenal has a much deeper and more dangerous team, but if he stays then the Gunners could be truly special.
It's fair to say that the midfield was somewhat of a weakness for Arsenal last season, but the combination of Podolski and Cazorla changes that. The Gunners now have several great offensive options, including Cazorla, who can either create his own offense or find one of Arsenal's many other threats in dangerous scoring areas.
Regardless of whether Cazorla starts or comes off the bench to begin his tenure at Arsenal, he is going to provide an offensive spark that should make a huge difference. There haven't really been any signs of progress on Van Persie front, so my best guess is that he will remain a Gunner this season and possibly find some chemistry with Cazorla.
Cazorla is a dynamic offensive player who could very well change the entire complexion of Arsenal's attack. He may not be the most high-profile addition since he has never played in the EPL, but his skills are undeniable and once he meshes with his teammates, he should be a very special player for the Gunners.
It won't be easy to overtake Manchester City or Manchester United, but Arsenal appears to be much closer to those teams heading into this season than it was last season. If Cazorla plays up to his potential and adapts to the EPL style of play, the Gunners may rise to the top of the league.
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