Alexander Song must cause Arsene Wenger the biggest headache of all our players. What is this player really capable of achieving, where do you play Song?
It is well documented that Song had a nightmare start to his Arsenal career, eventually moving to Charlton and performing well in midfield. Song returned but was a peripheral figure. Last season saw a comical Song come one as a substitute nearly every game.
When questioned as to where Song should play, Wenger said he was not built to play in central midfield. As if to emphasise the point Wenger played Song as a centre back for the last half-dozen games last season. Was Wenger planning to play Song as a centre back for the 2008/09 season, with Senderos being sent to Milan, this looked likely.
The season started and Song started to partner Denilson or Fabregas. Song looked out of place in midfield, completely lost technically and position wise. The game passed him by, he did not make tackles and contributed little going forward. Wenger had not option but to persist with Song and slowly Song became a rock in midfield. He harassed opponents, never gave up on anything and started to win tackles. He became indispensible in central midfield.
Was Song the answer to our midfield problems? Had we found our new Vieira? Well not yet, but Song was a willing candidate.
Well just to muddy the waters Wenger has again chosen to play Song at the back for the last two games this season.
Where is Song’s best position, defence or midfield? In truth, he is not good enough at this moment to hold down either position, but under no circumstances do we get rid off Song. Song is the ideal utility squad player. Song can step in and do a good job, but not as a regular starter. Every squad needs two or three such players and Song is our man for all occasions.
Many fans were bemused on Saturday when both Arshavin and Song were absent for what was clearly our most important game of the season. We were 90 minutes away from a cup final, yet Arsene opted not to choose two of our most influential players of recent weeks.
On Tuesday night we saw what we missed on Saturday.
Song played like two players; making up for Denilson’s deficiencies. Song covered the pitch, provided support for the defence and dominated Maschareno and Alonso. Oh how we could have done with his power on Saturday.
Arsene’s explanation is that Song had played a lot of games recently. It was more important to play him on Saturday and let him have Sunday against Middlesbrough as his rest day.
The other missing player was Arshavin. On Tuesday night he was very quiet t ostart with. Most of our play in the first half was on the other flank, emphasising how busy and important Nasti is (another absentee). Then the Russian came to life. He scored a good goal in the first half, but his second was something to admire. Not quite in the Pires mould when he scored a beauty a few years back at Anfield but it was a great solo goal. His third was a poacher’s goal whilst his fourth showed his speed. He ran the length of the field, almost overtaking Walcott before he placed the ball past Reina.
Our performance on Saturday lacked the drive that Arshavin would have given us. It is still a mystery as to why he was missing. He played the previous week-end against Wigan and Wenger knows he cannot play in the Champions League, so he was not resting him for the semi-final against Manchester United. The only explanation is that Arsene wants us to finish third and avoid a tough Champions League qualifier in August.
No matter what is said, leaving these two players out of the match against Chelsea cost us a place in the Final. Wenger deep down must realise he made a mistake in the team selection.
Arsenal’s Alexander Song is to play in the Beijing Olympics for Cameroon. Song joins other Premier League players like Liverpool’s Babel (Holland), Lucas (Brazil), Man Utd’s Anderson and Man City’s new £17m striker Jo, who will both be representing Brazil in the Olympic Games.
AC Milan’s Kaka also wishes to play in the Olympics but AC Milan are objecting.