August Player of the Month – Alex Song

Alex Song has flourished in his role as the deepest midfielder, his tackling and pressing key to Arsenal’s impressive start to the season.
Alex Song

It’s funny how a fresh start can result in a change in attitude and fortune. Arsene Wenger had mulled deeply during the previous season on how to reinvigorate his troops after what was becoming a dour campaign. His answer was to switch to a 4-3-3, playing a high intensity pressing game and bringing much fluidity to the side.

Pre-season failed to excite his boys but as soon as the real stuff started, they notched it up a few gears. The key to the early success has not been just the new system, the players willingness and attitude has been the most impressive. Fabregas has been liberated in the centre allowing him to dictate at will while behind him Alex Song and Denilson have provided the double shield, hassling and harrying opposition. While Denilson has steadily continued his unnoticed form last season Cameroonian Alex Song has been given extra responsibility and has gained an extra stride or two.

“I am the first defender in the midfield, if you like,” he said. “That means Cesc and Denilson can push forward a little more. I’ll stay in the middle so that I can stop counter-attacks and close passes down. I’ve seen everyone want the ball when we have it and everyone pressuring it hard when we don’t.”

His presence in the middle has already seen him make twelve successful tackles in his two league games (two unsuccessful) and while his reading of the game is not yet as developed as Denilson’s, that has still not deterred him from making fourteen crucial interceptions. There is an increasing level of evidence to show a specialist tackler is becoming of greater importance but come the bigger games, it must be complemented even more importantly with the effective reading of play. Arsenal’s dominance against Manchester United, despite their 2-1 loss saw the Gunners make 37 interceptions to United’s measly eight although the tackle counts were very similar.

Alex Song was at the forefront, breaking down play the most frequently and has also shown confidence on the ball. He hasn’t always been to everyone’s tune but with performances like these, will ensure his name is sung for months to come.


9 thoughts on “August Player of the Month – Alex Song

  1. I guess Vermaalen is helping him look better too. Song plays more confidently when he know that the back four won’t cock up.

  2. Good piece – agree 100%

    I thought he (Song) started to come good when on loan to Charlton – he has come on masses. I hope he is on a long-term contract – we don’t want him becoming another Flamini!

    1. finally someone who pays attention too.
      i have always said song’s time @ charlton is what made me aware of his midfield potential but i guess most people were too busy slating him to notice…

  3. Agree, though I may have voted for Vermaelen: simply cause he liberates Gallas, Clichy, Sagna AND Song (Song seems so comfertable with Vermaelen’s guidance and security in his rear) and the way he has helped the defence is more important than any one or two performances. Mind you, those have been stunning too.

  4. yes I would have voted Vermaelen, as he didn’t do much wrong and did well at Old Trafford. I think this position or the CB position suits Song as he is slow in acceleration. Getting him to cover smaller area is better.

  5. i like song. i hope he keeps up this rise in form.
    the interception statistic is very representative of the power struggle in the manu-arsenal game. this newly developed team structure is going to bring us places.
    i sincerely thought we needed a tactical refresher after previous seasons games in which i noted several trends.
    attacking and open games(such as against milan and villareal in champs league), where opponents would trade volleys of attacks, were the games in which we dominated. we proved that we could out pass and out maneuver any side on any day.
    defensive and counter attacking games(such as against ManU in the CL late last season, and some games against Bolton or Newcastle), where our opponents would either “park the bus” or counter-attack us, were the games in which we struggled the most. i have to say we struggled alot and often last season. we never quite “caught our rhythm” but that may have been caused in part by missing creative linchpins.
    i felt as if games were decided on these two categories. if a team decided to attack or defend a certain way, the outcome of the game would be heavily influenced and we would either look comfortable or uncomfortable.
    this season, we are bringing the game to the opponents with our high pressure game. i hope that this is the answer to our tactical problems.
    go arsenal!

  6. I agree completely agree with your analysis of Alex Song, his reading of the game is the only area in which he lacks the performance of a true defensive midfielder. it has been shown thru last season and this current season tho in its early stages, that as Arsenal begin to absorb pressure, his performances tend to grow shaky, and mistake prown.
    He also needs to work on his “90 minute” concentration. as later in games, gaps begin to open up in the midfield, and in front of the defense, he has been guilty on more than a few occasions of being caught out of position.
    these are things that come with experience however, and this is truly his first full season starting in midfield, he never quite nailed his place down until fabregas’s injury layoff.

    Dear we say that the old saying rings true? that good things do come from the bad! If Cesc hadn’t gotten injured and the adjustments hadn’t been made, we may very well still be playing 4-4-2.

  7. Some of Song’s performances this early season have been Essien-like (minus the leg-breaking tackles). Especially against Celtic he seemed like a wall in the midfield, not only taking the ball of players, but holding it under pressure and distributing it well once he has it. Along with Denilson tireless movement, Vermaelen’s assured interventions, and a seriously motivated and excited Gallas, I think we have the defensive solidity to really anchor a flourishing attacking game (we have already scored 16 goals from 5 games, but I don’t really think our attackers have started clicking yet). Fingers crossed that they all stay healthy, and I think we win the league. although I think that in Senderos we have top, top cover at the back.

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