After leading the domination of the midfield against Manchester City on Sunday afternoon, Alex Song has been repaying the faith Arsene Wenger showed in the Cameroonian, when he was signed seven years ago.
Song was instrumental in halting any potential City counterattack, thwarting the ineffective Mario Balotelli and ensuring Sergio Aguero was merely a spectator for the majority of the game.
His fluid link-up play with Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky, who all seemed to respond to one another's movements telepathically, combined with a defensive tenacity that nipped any forming City attack in the bud, as if any attempt by Roberto Mancini’s men were futile, exemplified the good work Song has been putting in all season.
Balotelli could have ruined Song’s evening in as early as the 20th minute, when the Italian raised his studs as far as the midfielder’s shin. A little higher and the potential for knee ligament damage would have been very high. Concern resonated ubiquitously in the stadium, showing just how much Song has endeared himself to the fans.
The 2008-09 season was Song’s breakthrough season. After making unconvincing and nervous performances prior, he racked up over 40 appearances in all competitions and established a role as the enforcer in the team.
With each passing year, he has quietly risen up as one of Arsenal’s top consistent performers, becoming essential in a midfield trio.
Now that he is adding assists to his game, he has already provided eight in the league this season, he has shown his diversity in his attacking qualities too.
Song’s aforementioned telepathy doesn’t stop at the midfield either. If it wasn’t for two magnificent lofted passes landing perfectly on the laces of Robin van Persie’s wand of a left foot, then the Dutchman wouldn’t have two contenders for "Goal of the Season" under his name.
Song’s supremacy of the middle third on Sunday lent just as much of a vindication of Arsenal’s philosophy off the field, just as much as it did on it, against a contrasting philosophy at City.
Signed for just £1 million in 2005 and nurtured extensively ever since, Song outplayed a midfield with the combined total cost of over £80 million. If that’s not worthy of a defiant chest puffing gloat, then I don’t know what is.
So what’s next for Song? Reports have suggested a new deal is in place to secure his services for the long term, ensuring that the customary bid for an Arsenal player by City is rebuffed dismissively by the back of Wenger’s hand.
With a couple of quality additions to the squad in the summer, who knows how strong Song will become.