By 1970’s Gooner
Arsenal’s most improved player this season has been Alexandre Song.
His performances in the centre of midfield have been just short of excellent. He has grown in that role in leaps and bounds this season, showing tenacity, strong tackling and learning to distribute accurately.
But his performances last season and in the last few games of this, in the heart of the defence have also been very impressive.
He has been able to hold his own against strong and tricky forwards, deal with the high balls, be positionally aware and, importantly for Arsenal’s style of play, bring the ball out of defence and distribute with precision.
All vital characteristics of an effective central defender.
That Song deserves to be a first team player next season goes without saying. But where? You might say that a versatile player can be deployed in various positions so why answer the above question now?
Arsene Wenger now has a dilemma to solve because he needs to make hard decisions on the new player (s) to bring in so that this team can really challenge for the title for next season. And he has to make them now.
Does he go for a new central defender to bolster his choices in this vital area where he himself has identified as a weakness?
Remember Wenger comparing Arsenal’s goals for and against with Manchester United’s in one of his press conferences recently?
It was the goals against that Arsenal clearly fell short (37 against United’s 24) whereas we actually scored as many goals as United (68).
Or does he buy a new central midfielder with defensive capabilities and with experience?
Song’s emergence and promise can force Wenger’s hand and actually encourage him to target a new player in only one of the two positions.
There are two reasons for this.
The first is that by buying both a new defender and a new midfielder, Song’s (and come to that Denilson’s) potential will be stalled just at the time when it has really began to blossom.
The second is financial.
He can concentrate and deploy the apparently limited budget he has available this season to the one position he chooses to strengthen in. This becomes even more important if he has to buy a new centre forward as well.
And this is where Gareth Barry comes in.
He is an experienced and talented central midfielder who can provide strength in an area where Arsenal have been lacking in this season.
He will certainly be ideal to play along side Fabregas and at the same time provide the experience and nous that this young and exciting team so obviously need.
If the Barry transfer has a realistic chance of happening then Song's strong canditure for a first team spot next season should actually forces Wenger to really make this transfer happen and include Song among his dependable options for central defenders next season.
In this way he will bolster both midfield and central defence and also create viable alternatives in both positions.