Alex Song: Reasons Why the Midfielder Will Be Missed by Arsenal

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Alex Song: Reasons Why the Midfielder Will Be Missed by Arsenal
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“Song leaving Arsenal is good riddance to bad rubbish. The Cameroonian is a disruptive influence in the Gunners’ ranks. It’s my belief that players should wear the jersey of Arsenal with pride, Song’s heart was no longer at Arsenal, he was already dreaming of Catalonaia, Wenger reveled that Song desired Barca move. Why keep him if he wanted to leave?

"Song had few years left on his deal and if Wenger had not sold him this summer, he would have stalled on a new contract and next summer, he would have arm-twisted the club into a sale and at that time, Arsenal might not have recouped so much from the high handed Barcelona.” - Kolade Omatoso of soccerfanbase.com.

“So while Alex Song certainly had his moments during his time with the Gunners, no crown jewel has been plucked from Arsene Wenger’s hands, either. Ultimately, Song became a jack of all trades, yet a true master of none, and that’s just what Barcelona are getting for their £15 million.” - James Dudko of B/R.

These are great articles nonetheless, but they have seen the light of day in the wake of Song’s move to Barcelona. Arsenal.com has confirmed that the Cameroonian has agreed terms with Barcelona and has jetted off to Spain for his medical. It’s believed that a £17m move is on the cards.

Last Spring, the Daily Mail published an article about Arsenal offering Song a bumper offer to commit his long-term future to the club. It was supposed to be a contract worth £75,000 per week, and the good news was music to the ears of many Arsenal fans.

Song joined Arsenal in 2006 from SC Bastia, but he was loaned to Charlton shortly afterwards to get some playing time. With the likes of Gilberto Silva, Mathieu Flamini, Denilson and Lassana Diarra ahead of him, the chances of Song getting playing time were slim to none.

In Arsenal’s impressive 2007-08 Premier League campaign, Song watched from the sidelines as Fabregas and Flamini forged a telepathic understanding on the pitch. However, after the Flanimal’s exit to AC Milan paved the way for the young Cameroonian, he became Arsenal’s chief enforcer, amassing 48 appearances in his breakthrough season.

Song went on to become synonymous with a starting berth in subsequent seasons, and his star shone the brightest in the 2011/12 season. I’m not ignorant to the fact that he wasn’t too impressive in his “primary job” last season, but we should remember vividly that he probably played to Arsene Wenger’s instructions.

If I take you down memory lane in the days when Song looked like a hybrid between Abel Xavier and Djibril Cisse, he was the water carrier of the team and he allowed the more creative players like Fabregas to their thing with the confidence that he was going to break up play. Song’s performances in the 2009-10 season were so impressive, Arsenal wasted no time in handing him a long-term deal that was to expire in 2014.

When Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri departed last summer, the panic button was pressed so hard, it sprang out of it’s remote control. The subsequent games following their departure didn’t help matters at all as the Gunners slumped at home to Liverpool before suffering a humiliating 8-2 defeat to Manchester United.

The burden of creativity fell on the shoulders of Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Rosicky, but it seemed like a burden to big to bear before Alex Song stepped into the picture. Song is showing promise beyond his years, but last season proved that Aaron Ramsey is not yet ready to be the top playmaker at a big club such as Arsenal.

With the likes of Yossi Benayoun, Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky all struggling to find that killer through pass to the in-form Van Persie and the rest of the forward line, Alex Song stepped up his game to become the club’s chief midfield playmaker while also performing his defensive duties to his usual high standard.

Last season, Alex Song became  a potent force in Arsenal’s attack and he created 14 assists, with a considerable chunk of them for Robin van Persie.

His defense-splitting pass to van Persie against Norwich was sumptuous to say the least. Van Persie finished it off with a cheeky lob over the Norwich goalie. He invoked the spirit of Lionel Messi when Arsenal hosted Dortmund by taking on some defenders before crossing the ball for RVP that sent his header goalwards.

When the chips were down against the Merseysiders (Everton at Emirates and Liverpool at Anfield), Alex Song supplied two similar perfect projectiles for van Persie and Arsenal’s captain finished both efforts in the same magnificent similar fashion.

Van Persie hasn’t been the only player that benefited from Song’s attacking verve on the final third. In the FA Cup third Round clash against Leeds United, Song played a wonderful through ball past four Leeds United players to the returning legend, Thierry Henry, and the rest was history. Song has also supplied two sublime assists for Theo Walcott against Tottenham and Aston Villa.

Statistics also showed the class apart Alex Song is from the rest of his peers in Arsenal’s midfield last season.

In his last season at Arsenal, Fabregas made 36 apps, scored nine goals and created 17 assists making him a standout performer. Samir Nasri on the other hand, made 46 apps, scored 15 goals and supplied 5 assists.

Yossi Benayoun made 25 apps, scored six goals and has handed only one assist to Gervinho against Wolves. Tomas Rosicky made 38 apps, scored two goals and despite his amazing passing range, he supplied a meager amount of six assists.

Mikel Arteta has made 36 apps, smashed in six goals and created three assists. Aaron Ramsey has notched up 44 apps, scored three goals and created eight assists.

Last season, Alex Song was the most creative defensive midfielder in Europe with more assists than Xabi Alonso (2), Sergi Busquets (2), Scotty Parker (1), Mark van Bommel (0) and Felipe Melo (0) put together. These stats prove that Song isn’t your average defensive midfielder and it’s fair to say that he is, more or less, a deep-lying playmaker, a role created by the great Andrea Pirlo.

Alex Song’s effectiveness in the attacking third became a key part of Arsenal’s style of play and his over-the-top projectiles have become his registered trademark.

However, Arsenal took onto the pitch on Saturday with a new look midfield in the form of Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Abou Diaby (the player occupying Song’s role).

Like Song last season, Diaby forayed forward (making Arteta cover his tracks in midfield) but his output was as expected: zero. There were times when the lanky French man dwelt on the ball far too long.

If we want to be frank with ourselves, our midfield would have fared better if Song played in Diaby’s stead because he might have launched on of his trademark projectiles for Olivier Giroud, a striker renowned to be good with the ball in the air and at his feet.

There is so much talk about Nuri Sahin, and I truly hope that these rumors become a reality because Arsenal can make do with another technically-gifted midfielder with an eagle-eye for a pass.

After serving Arsenal Football Club for six years, Song notched up 204 appearances, scored 10 goals and supplied 24 assists.

Say what you want about the Cameroonian, but Song was one of Arsenal’s most consistent players in recent seasons. You can’t possibly think Arsenal won’t miss him. That’s just denial.

Arsenal it was, Arsenal it is and Arsenal it will always be.

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