Song in the Middle
Alex joined Arsenal in 2005, initially on loan from Bastia, but then permanent for €3M. He had a mixed first few seasons, with the highlight being a successful loan spell at Charlton where he showed what he was capable of doing.
Song’s problem was that nobody knew what type of player he was, Was he going to be a commanding central midfielder or an athletic centre back. The 2007-08 campaign saw him have a good African Nations Cup tournament. He returned to Arsenal injured. At the tail of last season Wenger partnered Song with Gallas at the centre of the defence. Wenger went on to say that, he did not see Song as a central midfielder as he did not have the attributes for this position.
So Song was going to be a centre back, but where was he going to fit in, with Gallas, Toure, Silvestre and Djourou all ahead of him? The solution was easy. Wenger has been playing him as a central midfielder! Nevertheless, does he have the correct “attributes” to be a central midfielder?
Song is strong, fast, and athletic, these are pre-requisites for most of Arsene’s signings. However, what else can he add to the midfield? As a “centre back,” he should be first with a challenge, but as was evident on Tuesday night, he rarely put a tackle or block in. Song is a modern type of player who does not believe in physical contact. All too often he was out of position, the game was passing him by, whilst from an attacking perspective Song offers very little.
The best that Song can offer Arsenal is a utility player in the mould of Grimandi, who was never outstanding in any position, but performed admirably when called up by Wenger. The question is will Song be happy for such a role and will Wenger be content with keeping a player like Song at the club who is not a first team regular but can come in a fill the gaps as and when required.