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
William Gallas, 42
Robin Van Persie, 20
Johan Djourou, 2
Lukasz Fabianski, 8
Vito Mannone, 0
Emmanuel Adebayor, 40
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