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The Key to Arsenal’s Resurgence? Alex Song

While Robin van Persie has been grabbing all the headlines (and rightfully so), Alex Song has also been at the heart of Arsenal’s rebirth. He has improved his passing and his positioning this season to become one of the top holding midfielders in the Premier League.

Song’s Messi-like run and pinpoint cross set up Arsenal’s first goal in their 2-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday. While not known for his tricks, Song has significantly improved his passing skills. In fourteen games so far this season in all competitions, he has five assists. Last year, Song only managed three assists in thirty-nine matches.

The absence of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri in the midfield is one of the reasons Song has emerged as a playmaker. Both of Arsenal’s high-profile departures slowed the build-up play. This season, the Gunners are counter-attacking at a much greater pace. When Song gets the ball, he immediately looks to release Gervinho, van Persie, or Theo Walcott on the break. Before, he would usually just make the easy pass to Fabregas or Nasri.

Without Song, Arsenal’s back four would be like tortoise without its shell. As a defensive midfielder, he covers quite a lot of ground and doesn’t seem to tire late in games. Song is still there to make the important interception in stoppage time to secure an Arsenal win.

A criticism of Song is the fact that he commits too many fouls and is shown too many cards. It is a fair point but let’s not pretend that Roy Keane or Patrick Vieira were saints on the pitch. Accumulating bookings and conceding free kicks have to be frequent occurrences for defensive midfielders because of the number of tackles they attempt in a match.

Once condemned by Arsenal fans for his inconsistency, Song is now one of the most reliable Gunners. Arsene Wenger has been rewarded for sticking with Song through the tough times. This season, he has been vital to the Gunners’ rise from the ashes. And at only 24-years old, Alex Song can still improve and may even be a staple in the Arsenal midfield for a long time.

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  1. KissMyArsenal

    November 29, 2011 at 2:27 am

    ya keano, whatta saint! :/

    have always rated song highly and imo has been the most improved player from last seasons squad. much more composed and wise while still retaining the hustle and bustle whereas last year he was a bit of a wildman at times. this midfield trio is quality, and song is an interchangeable piece to it. he can move forward when we need him too but can always support the backline and let ramsey and arteta roam like the eyes of an eagle. OH and that run versus dortmund… 😮

    he def is the heart of our team, but tbh, i think the resurgence is just due to the team gelling together imo cos weve been on preseason mode before white hart lane. its as if like cesc left a little bit of fabregas into each 1 of our 3 midfield musketeers before he jetted off to cataland.

    lets not forget wilshere, itll be like a new signing in jan!

    weve only got ONE song!


  2. Kwasi

    November 26, 2011 at 2:15 am

    In all honesty, I hate to tell many gooners that I told you so, but yeah, I knew Cesc and Nasri’s departure would be the best thing to happen to this current Arsenal side. The Problem with the duo was that they were unable to pick their heads up in a bad situation and when your best players don’t play well the whole team is thrown off. Another big thing that I admire the current side over last seasons, is not only that they take fewer passes but they go forward with venom, purpose, and the intention of scoring goals and winning. Last season, there was build up without a purpose and no points and it was sickening, because they would often times just blow it, which stems off into my next comparison. Last season the midfield would just let the opposition run through them on the counter and leave the defense bare. The current midfield is as great an attribution to forwards as they are the defenders. I hope that this season will be our year, because our super hyped up rivals are struggling in the CL and are beginning to show signs that they are weakening domestically.

  3. 14

    November 25, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    Good assessment. I think Nasri slowed the game a lot when he was on the wing…Fabregas wasn’t that slow, and he was central and always looking for that pass.

    Song = one of thest defensive midfielder. he is carrying Arsenal.

    Gervinho a better wing option to nasri.

    • Jack Tomczuk

      November 26, 2011 at 12:04 am

      Gervinho is just much faster than Nasri. Nasri just isn’t a natural winger. As a Gooner, I really haven’t missed him at all this season. If Gervinho can improve his finishing, he can be one of the top wingers in the Premier League. He showed at Lille last season that he can score goals.

      As far as Cesc, he is a terrific player. Arsenal are creating chances using fewer passes this year than last. Everything went through Cesc last season, while this season, players like Song are able to spring the attack rather than play the complete possession game.

  4. robert

    November 25, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    tortoise without its shell… apt simile.

    he is really, really good at holding that ball with his back to the opposition too. great defensive mid, and, I agree, a huge part of arsenal’s “out-of-the-ashes” run this season.

  5. Dave

    November 25, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Aaron Ramsey has been very important as well as Theo’s crosses and Gervinho causing havoc even though he doesn’t finish. And Arteta I have to admit now has been a revelation in the Arsenal side. They are a different team now, they play solid and when they get ahead they hold more and get ugly wins. I think we’re gonna finsh top four and go deep in the CL, CC and FA.

    Hopefully they will build on this and add some more world class in the window to solidify the team as well as Wilshere coming back 100%.

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