Denilson and Song: The Rebirth of the Invisible Wall
The Everton game has come and gone.
Expectations shattered. Few managers worried. A couple players doubted their decisions.
Truck loads of humble pie served to the fourth estate. Most are still choking from it. A few remain in the hospital.
But skepticism persists.
So Stefan Vasilev had to write a letter. But still, listen to the doubters long enough and you'd think that Arsenal were playing against Championship side.
In truth, Arsenal trashed a side that is generally agreed to be a very good side, albeit one lacking in depth, but a good one nonetheless.
So don't let that fool you.
Most critics have been suggesting that Arsenal's attractive side were too thin across the midfield and some "muscle" were needed if they were to mount any serious challenge.
The irony of it all, Barcelona would say.
As always, Arsene Wenger, at the beginning of the season, pleaded for patience. We also saw Wenger experimenting with the various versions of the 4-3-3 system.
Depending on how you looked at it, it could be in the midfield Denilson (rightside), Cesc (centre), and Song (left), or you could say Bendtner (right), Denilson (centre), Song (left), which would then mean that Cesc was playing as the second striker behind Van Persie.
Whether or not Cesc is suitable for that position, considering his lack of pace, is an entirely different issue.
The point of this article is the pivotal role that Denilson and Song played in the whole set up. Denilson was, last season, the most consistent player for the team and one who played more than any. It is a statistic not to be sniffed at for a player misunderstood.
Arsene Wenger would not play you unless he absolutely believes you can do the job, and the EPL is not kind to weaklings. He was the main midfield man for most of the season until late, when his form dipped, which coincided with the return of Cesc and the emergence of a certain Alex Song.
Cana, Matuidi, Viera, Melo, Veloso have been touted by fans and critics alike as saviours of Arsenal's midfield and key to the titles. But no one bargained on Song and Denilson blossoming.
What happened on Saturday against Everton was the culmination of years of meticulous planning and development of players who will dominate the EPL for a while.
Consider that each time Cesc moved forward, Denilson and Song would remain behind diligently and with utter discipline, which meant that in the event of a counter, the two covered the space left by their captain.
The system worked beautifully in that Song almost never crossed the midway line, acting exactly how a dedicated DM would.
This meant if Song broke an attack ,Denilson was almost always near him to collect the ball and move it on, first to Cesc, who would have advanced forward or make a first pass to the last third.
Denilson's passing to the last third caused considerable panic, because Everton had not only to contend with Cesc's vision, but also Denilson's first time ball.
Song's energy, movement, and simplicity were brilliant, and he can only improve.
The system worked like a charm.
Granted, it was only one game and the Celtic will have to prove if those two can carry on as they did.
I have no doubt. The two unheralded players might yet prove to be the invisible enforcers they have always wanted.
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