Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Song’s Olympics could prove Wenger wrong

By 1970’s Gooner

Alexander Song had a bad game against Fulham at Craven Cottage a couple of seasons ago and a lot of frustrated fans got on his back since then.

They seemed to ignore that in that defeat the whole team had a nightmare of a game with hardly anyone of the players playing above average.

Before that I had been privileged to watch him a few times while he was out on loan at Charlton a few seasons ago and was really pleasantly surprised and quite impressed with his performances in midfield.

He sniffed out danger early enough, was very good in the tackle, kept possession well and could lay the ball accurately to his teammates.

This form continued when Wenger refused Charlton’s and other clubs overtures and brought him back to Arsenal.

Wenger’s faith in the youngster was shown to be correct when Alex, although playing in central defence in the Carling Cup games last season, excelled proving that he is indeed worth to be part of this fantastic Arsenal squad.

The culmination of his return to form was the excellent performances he put in for Cameroon in the Africa Nations Cup.

He protected his defenders very well, competing for every ball and when he came into possession he laid it off accurately to a team mate with that characteristic ease which typifies him.

Alexandre will remember this tournament as the one that really moved him into the forefront with everyone taking notice of his excellent performances.

So much so that the CAF had chosen him in the tournament’s best 11 players.

After that Song returned to Arsenal and began to establish himself in the first team culminating in that wonderful performance against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

He barely put a foot wrong in that game and went on to play every minute of Arsenal's last five Premier League fixtures.

Song's performances have surprised those who questioned his ability, but Wenger was never in doubt.

"I believe he is a remarkable player and I was one of the very, very few who believed in Alexandre Song" he said.

"I can show you articles in newspapers which said that he was the worst buy I have made but you will see in one or two years that he will be a great player for Arsenal".

But while Arsene Wenger chooses to deploy him at centre-back, Cameroon tend to play him as a holding midfielder and his tough tackling and solid distribution form an integral part of the team's attacks.

This is how Wenger justified his decision.

"Trust me, if I make a decision it is because I know all the characteristics of the player whether they are physical or mental characteristics".

"When I put a player somewhere, I know why I do.

If I play Song at centre back it is because I believe he will be a great centre back for Arsenal Football Club.

"In Song's case, he can play in central midfield. But can he play 60 games there? I am not convinced" Wenger continued.

This is a strange statement as I can hardly think that there is any Arsenal player that has actually played 60 games a season under Wenger.

Especially when you consider that he prefers to use different sides for the FA Cup and Carling Cup competitions and also when taking into account injuries and suspensions.

Kolo Toure would have been an everpresent one but he missed a few games when he was at the Africa Nations Cup and through injury last season. Gallas also got injured and so did Fabregas and Flamini too.

And there are only 38 Premier League games in a season remember, with another 15 if we reach the Champions League Final.

In fact the players that were ever present in most of Arsenal’s games last season started about 40 games each.

Have a look at the table below showing players’ appearances (starts) for all competitions last season and you will see what I mean.

Manuel Almunia, 38
Abou Diaby, 20
Bacary Sagna, 38
Cesc Fabregas, 43
Kolo Toure, 40
Philippe Senderos, 27
Tomas Rosicky, 19
Eduardo, 22
William Gallas, 42
Robin Van Persie, 20
Theo Walcott,20
Alexandre Song,10
Johan Djourou, 2
Lukasz Fabianski, 8
Gael Clichy,48
Vito Mannone, 0
Emmanuel Adebayor, 40
Nicklas Bendtner,17
Emmanuel Eboue, 31
Armand Traore, 9
Justin Hoyte, 11

Fabregas started 43 games in all competitions, Gallas 42, Toure 40, Adebayor 40 and Almunia 38.

So to use the number of games and (presumably) fatigue and lack of consisitency as reasons for not choosing a player in a particular position is a very strange one.

Song admittedly has played very well in central defence. He is a good man marker, quick, tenacious and can bring the ball out of defence.

But in the air I have my doubts due to his height (1.84 m, 6 ft 1⁄2 in).

It was Wenger after all who identified Arsenal’s weakness of not being able to defend the high direct ball into the middle of the defence.

Nevertheless, Wenger knows….. of course.

Cameroon’s games in the Olympics

Cameroon will first head from southern Germany to Hong Kong to participate in a warm-up tournament, along with Côte d'Ivoire, the Netherlands and the USA, before they begin their participation in the Men's Olympic Football Tournament Beijing 2008.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Korea Vs Cameroon at the Qinhuangdao Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, Qinhuangdao

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Cameroon Vs Honduras at the Qinhuangdao Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, Qinhuangdao

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Cameroon Vs Italy at the Tianjin Olympic Centre Stadium, Tianjin

Carlos Vela ready to replace Eduardo

Fabregas joins Barcelona…. in Uzbekistan! Plus photos

Five Arsenal youngsters show bright promise at Underhill

Song chosen in Africa’s best eleven players


Wrighty7 said...

Great post 1970's,

In Song's early Arsenal career I was one of the doubters but his performances of last season have won me round.

You on the other hand have always seen his good potential and I say well done for that mate.

Keep up the great articles 1970's...

Anonymous said...

I'd prefer Song to be used in midfield, personally, although Wenger obviously knows a lot more about his game than me!

Anonymous said...

Wenger will not buy any DM as he has Diaby and song. Indeed wenger will be logical enough to realise that by utilising Song in midfield he will save the money and allow his prodigies to grow.

Anonymous said...

Good article. He's always improving. He's strong and while he's not the fastest he's got heart and he will become a very important player for us.

Hejaz Kar said...

Nicely summed up there

It was hard to see the potential in Song but I think his problems were mental. I remember that Fulham game where he looked out of his depth and afew others. Whenever he had the ball he passed it straight into the opposition. It cost us here and there but he seems to have learnt from it. I think he's a more reliable player than the likes of Hoyte, Djourou and Senderos who I dont think are good enough

He's in the Gilberto mould though and Cesc needs a dynamic player alongside him but I think he would be a good player to have in the squad. I think Wenger means that he doesnt have the energy of someone like Flamini to dominate in midfield.

Anonymous said...

I always had faith in Song. I also think he would be a good partner for Cesc. However, I wish people would stop linking short people and not being able to head, because the two are not linked. Just because Song is six foot does not mean he's not a good header - or jumper.

Take Michael Owen, 5 foot 8 and can jump higher than Peter Crouch at 6 foot 7, who barely gets an inch off the ground.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, Internet Gooner. Someone like Miroslav Klose is a great header of the ball, without being any taller than Song. Even Eduardo had some great headers. It's not always about height.

Anonymous said...

I am rarely in total agreement with wenger when he moves players about the team but this time I am 100% in agreement with him. I was not convinced by Song for many games in midfield and I never trusted him and I frequently knocked him. as soon as he made a switch to centre back, I made a total U-turn. I realised song COULD be an Arsenal player after all. Now I think he is better than Senderos and possibly Djourou (though we dont see a lot of JD to judge fairly). This is probably another wenger success story.

leon said...

i think song wil play a more prominant role in this commimg season,i feel he is very good player central defence or molding midfielder,wenger is awear that he needs to improve is defensive squad but he cant solve that all in one season,i have to agree that hoyte and senderos are not good enough,however with song toure gon for beginning of the season he wont sell anyone yet,but if these players dont perform, i would expect to see changes next season

Anonymous said...

Apparently Alex Song played centre back before when he was at Bastia. Arsene was trying to use his passing skills in midfield but seems to have recognised that he is a better defender.

The first time I saw Alex in that role was against Newcastle in the Carling Cup. He was magnificent in the air. Newcastle's tactic was to bombard our defence with long balls, but Alex won all of his headers against the likes of Martins. He is also quite fast and strong so less likely to get bullied off the ball by the likes of Drogba. He just seems more comfortable at the back and I'm sure that we will see a lot of him this season and Arsene's faith will be vindicated.

I'll be very happy for Alex, as he seems like a very nice person and didn't deserve the abuse he took after that Fulham game. He has also shown his mental strength by coming through that difficult period.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post. I've always been a fan of Song, even when I thought he was rubbish! Something about the hair and the gangster bop, he could give us that scary crack dealer vibe we've been missing since Ralph left. But I really don't understand Arsene's insistence on moving him to centre-back. He's been fantastic in midfield when given a run, both for Charlton and Cameroon, and as we are clearly lacking in that position, why not give him a go? The "can he play 60 games there?" as you have rightly pointed out, is rubbish.

Anonymous said...

Let's not get too heated up about the game against Burgenland. Some first team men, will play, and judging too much by their display might decrease our optimism.This is just one game to sharpen our squad, before the main exercises ahead. We shouldn't make too much out of it.

video highlights available at

GUNNER said...

Excellent article !!!

He is one of the best in Arsenal right now!!! excellent improvent !! and attitude shown !!!

I hope he'll be new Gilberto Silva for Arsenal

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