Position : Central Midfielder
Nation : Cameroon
2011/2012 Appearances : 46
Alex Song can now claim to be one of the best central midfielders in the Premier League. Having arrived for as less as £1 million from French side Bastia, and a season on loan at Charlton, Song has slowly but steadily become a mainstay in midfield for the Gunners. A vital cog, he is one of the most effective midfielders, who can link defense and attack with consummate ease.
Let’s have a look at Alex Song‘s season.
After the departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, and the injuries sustained to Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby, all onus was on Alex Song and Aaron Ramsey in midfield. However, Alex Song earned a yellow card for a foul on Demba Ba, and was involved in several tussles with Joey Barton. This suspension meant he would miss out on the next 3 games for the Gunners, which were against Liverpool, Manchester United and Swansea.
He played both legs of the Champions League qualifiers against Udinese, and put in two nervy but steady performances as the Gunners qualified. He put in an outstanding display against German champions Borussia Dortmund. He was at the heart of everything good that Arsenal did in the game, effectively keeping out Dortmund’s young exciting talent. However, Dortmund equalized in the dying moments. Days later, he would score an unfortunate own goal in the 4-3 loss to Blackburn.
He, however made up for it, in the very next league match, with a fine goal against Bolton, as Arsenal cruised to a 3-0 win. Song played a vital role in Chamberlain’s goal against Olympiakos as Arsenal won nervously 2-1. Song had a mixed performance in the 2-1 derby loss to Tottenham, at White Hart Lane. An interesting midfield battle with Scott Parker bought out the best of both. Song did concede possession a few times, which could have been dangerous.
He put in a good display at home to Sunderland, as Arsenal held their nerves to win 2-1. A fine defensive performance in France against Marseille, and at home to Stoke would follow. Another exciting midfield battle at Stamford Bridge was up next, where Song and Co. came out trumps.
Arsenal would enjoy a good November, and Song was particularly instrumental. A 0-0 draw at home with Marseille later, Alex Song carved open West Brom’s midfield, to set up Vermaelen’s goal. He got an assist the next week against Norwich, when his fine pass, was chipped in by van Persie. His almost telepathic understanding with the Dutchman continued when his ‘Messi’esque run and cross to van Persie helped Arsenal take the lead in an important game. He would end the month with a tired mixed game against Fulham, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
After an easy win over Wigan, he would play a fantastic long ball to van Persie, which was met with an exquisite finish, in a 1-0 home win over Everton, on Arsenal’s 125th anniversary. Despite a good performance against Manchester City, Arsenal went on to lose 1-0. Lacklustre home games against Wolves and QPR ended the year.
The Gunners endured a torrid month of January, where Song barely imposed himself against Fulham at Craven Cottage. The FA Cup bought some memorable moments, as Alex Song played returning legend Thierry Henry a delightful pass, for the winner against Leeds. Arsenal’s midfield was played out of the park by an industrious Swansea, and despite an improved performance against Manchester United, Arsenal would go on to lose again.
Arsenal’s slow resurgence began with a 0-0 draw at Bolton, where Song again failed to stamp his authority in midfield. A strong display against Blackburn, in a 7-1 thrashing and another nervy win over Sunderland in the league was next, before Arsenal lost heavily in Italy to AC Milan. Song was poor as Milan forayed far too often into the final third. He was up against the impressive Ibrahimovic and the Swede won hands down. He played through a knock in the 2-0 FA Cup exit to Sunderland, and nearly conceded a penalty, when he handled the ball, but the referee didn’t notice. The midfield was again caught sleeping for Sp*rs opener, but the Gunners staged a fightback to win 5-2 on the evening.
The Cameroonian put in yet another mixed game against Liverpool at Anfield, losing possession numerous times. However, he would play a fantastic long ball for van Persie’s late winner. He made up for his Milan performance, with a commanding display in the second leg. Milan barely built any meaningful attacks, as Arsenal won 3-0, but failed to go through. He had an interesting midfield battle with Newcastle’s Cheik Tiote, with both tussling each other about. Song had the last laugh when he played in Walcott, whose cross was met Vermaelen, for a 95th minute winner. After a 1-0 win at Everton, Song played another of his brilliant long balls, this time met by Theo Walcott, in a 3-0 win over Aston Villa.
He was instrumental in shutting out Manchester City in a 1-0 win at the Emirates, with the Sky Blues failing to register a single shot on target. He was at the receiving end of a poor Balotelli tackle, early on, but the Italian escaped without a booking. After another good game against Wolves, he was culprit for losing the ball too many times in a 2-1 home loss to Wigan. The same continued at Chelsea, where Song looked out of sorts. He survived another malicious challenge, at Stoke, this time from Dean Whitehead, as he put in an improved performance against Stoke.
The form graph dipped again, as he was guilty of losing the ball far too many times against Norwich. He did play a fine through ball for van Persie’s equalizing goal, but conceded possession, as Norwich scored their 3rd late on. His cheeky backheeel almost won the game. Arsenal and Song ended the season nervously with a 3-2 win at West Brom.
Here are some key features of Alex Song‘s game.
It is quite clear, that Song lacks that extra bit of pace in midfield. Diaby went on to state once that Song is the slowest player in training, and this was quite evident this season. He tends to struggle against pacy and skillful midfielders.
2. Midfield Play
As we have heard in numerous forums, Song is not a ‘defensive midfielder’, but rather ‘the most defensive’ of Arsenal”s midfielders. Despite the occasional sloppiness, he is an accomplished defensive midfielder. Playing alongside Arteta, in midfield, means Song has to do most of the dirty work. He has made several interceptions and has been instrumental in breaking attacks from the opposition. He is a good header of the ball, and his tireless running helps setting up many counterattacks. His passing also looks to have improved a lot.
3. Attack Play
Surprisingly, for a defensive midfielder, the Cameroonian has 16 assists to his name, which is remarkable. His understanding with Robin van Persie has been a feature this season. An overall improvement was remarkably visible.
SUMMARY AND RATING
The Cameroonian, like Sagna, Koscielny and van Persie is one of the first names on the team sheet. 46 appearances this season is a testimony to his fitness. With some work on his possession and pace, he can be one of the best central midfielders in the world. He gets a rating of 8.