Arrival of Robin van Persie to Manchester United Shifts EPL's Balance of Power
At long last, Manchester United was able to complete a deal with Arsenal to acquire superstar striker Robin van Persie. Sir Alex Ferguson landed the coveted target just in time for the new English Premier League season.
It's a move which will undoubtedly shift the league's balance of power, as the Red Devils made an impact acquisition just days before the new campaign as defending champion and archrival Manchester City looked on.
Greg Stobart of Goal.com reports the full transfer deal will end up costing United nearly £73 million after Van Persie passes his medical testing and signs his new contract. He's going to earn £48.9 million over four years, all things included.
Ferguson and his United bosses wouldn't have agreed to such a massive deal unless they were confident he was the missing piece to the team's championship puzzle. It makes the Red Devils favorites, like they have been so many times in the past.
The EPL title is one of the club's goals heading into every season. Losing out on it last year was a disappointment, but watching City win it raised the frustration level even more. The Red Devils clearly don't want a repeat performance.
By signing Van Persie, United now has the top two Premiership goal scorers from last season. The Netherlands international scored 30 to lead the league, and Wayne Rooney finished second with 27. No other player had more than 23.
It's important to remember Van Persie was able to produce those eye-popping numbers despite not getting much support from his fellow Gunners. Back lines were keyed in on stopping him, and he still found a way to dominate.
Putting him on the same field as Rooney, who has been attracting the defensive attention for United for nearly a decade, should make Van Persie even more dangerous. The dynamic duo will give the Red Devils the best one-two punch in the league.
Rising star Javier Hernandez will provide scoring depth barring a late move, and he should make the United attack a nightmare for opponents no matter who's in the lineup.
City isn't going to go down without a fight, however. The Citizens have an impressive attacking trio of their own thanks to Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli. They combined to score 50 league goals last season.
Carlos Tevez will also help up front, but the one area where City will need to excel to outlast United is in the midfield. The team has no shortage of young talent in the middle, including newly acquired Jack Rodwell, and it's one area where City should have an edge.
City also has the ultimate equalizer between the pipes. Joe Hart seems like he's been around forever, but he is still just 25. His judgment has improved markedly during his time at Etihad Stadium, turning him into one of the world's best goalkeepers.
If he's able to maintain top form throughout the season, especially in those two anticipated clashes against United, City can reclaim the top spot.
All told, it's a battle that will likely go right down to the wire again. United needed a big move to keep pace with its neighbors, and the club pulled it off. Every single point is going to matter starting this weekend, adding to the weekly drama.
The biggest loser of the transfer is Arsenal, at least in the short term. The infusion of cash will help the team over time, but it's probably too late to make a big deal before the end of the current transfer window.
After a slow start last season, the Gunners fought back to claim third place and a spot in the Champions League. Matching that league finish and having success against Europe's best clubs will be tough without their main offensive weapon.
Arsene Wenger was able to bring in some attacking options to help lessen the impact. Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla should give Arsenal more depth than it had last season, but none of them are capable of completely filling Van Persie's cleats.
Unless a young player like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain takes his game to the next level, the Gunners face an uphill battle to finish in the top three again.
Which team will win the Premier League?
The only other team with a realistic shot of putting a scare into the two Manchester teams is Chelsea. The Blues are coming off a lackluster sixth-place finish last season, but they did regroup in time to win the Champions League in dramatic fashion.
Having a full season with Roberto Di Matteo at the helm should help Chelsea remain competitive, as will the addition of talented youngsters Eden Hazard and Oscar. Winning the Premier League still seems like a long shot, though.
In reality, it's shaping up to be a two-team race for the title. Van Persie shifts the favored status to United, if only by a little bit. If he's able to replicate his production from last season, the Red Devils' attack will be deadly.
Regardless of the outcome, the high-profile transfer sets football fans up for another exciting season of Premier League action.
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