We all know Alex Song the tenacious, tough tackling defensive midfielder. Yesterday, however, he showed us a side to him that we had only glimpsed before. Song, 24, showed us that he’s not just a tough-tackling, knuckle-headed dm. In fact, he showed such incredible craft and vision so precise that he is on level terms with David Silva for most successful through balls. Defensive midfielder? Let’s see.
We shall start at the beginning, where did he come from? Well, he was born Alexandre Dimitri Song Billong on September 9th 1987 in Douala, Cameroon. At the age of 3 Alex was left fatherless when his father sadly passed away. His cousin Rigobert, however, stepped up to the plate and took it upon himself to give Alex a father figure and nurtured him. Rigobert was a major factor in Alex looking to football as a career. Unfortunately he was unable to find a club or academy where he could play regular football and improve his ability.
At the tender age 16 of Alex moved to France and joined SC Bastia’s youth team. In 2004 François Ciccolini took charge of the club and was so impressed with the 16-year-old he decided to promote him to the first-team. In the 2004-2005 season Alex managed to notch up 31 first team appearances.
During Song’s spell with Bastia he attracted an increasing amount of interest from top European clubs. Bastia, however, regarded Song as a prize asset and didn’t want to sell him so they agreed to loan him to Arsenal for the 2005-2006 season where he made 5 appearances before Wenger decided to operate a clause in his loan contract and signed the Versatile player for £1,000,000 on a four-year contract despite heavy competition from Lyon.
Song’s Arsenal career had begun bright where he had made several league and Champions League appearances in the lead up to the January transfer window. On January 9th 2007 Alex scored his first goal for Arsenal in the memorable 6-3 drubbing of Liverpool in the League Cup. On 30 January 2007, it was confirmed that Charlton Athletic had signed Song on loan until the end of the 2006–07 season. [Although he impressed, Charlton were relegated and Song returned to Arsenal after racking up 13 appearances for the former premier league side.
The 2008-2009 season proved to be Song’s breakthrough season where he made 48 appearances in all competitions for the first team. The following season, however, he played in all but one of Arsenal’s first twelve Premier League games and also finished third in Arsenal.com’s player of the month for October, behind Cesc and RVP. Alex quickly established himself as an integral part of Arsenal’s midfield. His tough tackling, commanding performances allowing Arsenal’s more attacking, creative players to attack more freely. More specifically he was the perfect partner for Fabregas. Two completely different players who complimented each other’s style of play and formed the Arsenal engine for the 09-10 season. The following season saw Alex finish with 42 appearances in total, 5 goals and 3 assists in all competitions.
That brings us up to the current season. Since the departures of Samir and Cesc and injuries to Wilshere and Diaby, Alex has found himself short of creative players in front of him with the fit-again Ramsey and new recruit Arteta being run ragged. Arsene did manage to sign Yossi Benayoun from Chelsea on a season long loan but thus far he has been unable to make a solid contribution to the team, along with Rosicky.
With that stark truth settling around the Emirates unrest started when Arsenal made their worst start to a season for 58 years and it was apparent the team was unsettled and largely relied on the injury prone skipper RVP to provide the goals.
Let’s fast forward to December 10th 2011. The Emirates is packed with over 60,000 expectant fans. After over an hour of play the scores are still level at 0-0 and the game looked destined to be goalless when up steps the Cameroonian Commander Alex Song. After seeing Ramsey, Arteta, Walcott and Gervinho all fails to play through a decisive ball to create a real chance for Van Persie, Song leapt from the darkness to play a 20-yard chipped pass, from 15 yards into EFC’s half, over the head of Phil Jagielka for Van Persie to volley home brilliantly. Yesterday was much to same story, Alex was continually probing away at the Blackburn defence and played a huge part in Arsenal’s flamboyant success.
In my opinion, Song is one of the best players in the premier league and to compare to him to a player like Vieira is something that would be totally unfair. Alex has developed his own style of play and is beginning to master it, he has been trusted to fill a void left by the departure of four creative midfielders and I believe he has the talent to do so. He will be the perfect midfield partner to a fit again Wilshere. The future can only get better for a player who has maturity beyond his years and I think coupling his performance alongside that of Coquelin, Chamberlain and Walcott, not to mention those who didn’t play a part, I believe it is fair to say that the future is very bright under Arsene. All he needs to do this season is let the players do what they do best. Their confidence levels are brimming so a good run of form looks to be on its way.
AW has his philosophy to follow, I have mine. In Arsene I Trust.
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