Depending on who you talk to Arsenal’s Alex Song is either the glue that holds his side together or one of the main reasons behind their failings over the last couple of seasons. The popular opinion holds that ‘Song goes forward much too frequently for a defensive midfielder, creating holes in Arsenal’s defense that often get exploited’. Whilst I can see where this opinion comes from, it strikes me that these complaints have arisen from the ambiguity of his role in the team.
He started out his career as a proper, old-fashioned defensive midfielder and that’s how he’s viewed by many. It’s certainly how opposition fans, pundits and the majority of the media treat him and this gives license to their jeers whenever he roams forward. The truth is, however, he’s a different player from the one he was 2-3 years ago.
He’s now part of one of the most versatile and adaptable 3-men midfields in the Premier League. There’s no use pigeon-holing him into the defensive-midfielder role because all of Arsenal’s midfielders take turns going forward and staying back. In fact, Mikel Arteta has often been the furthest midfielder back this season and whenever he’s been unavailable the Gunner’s have tended to disappoint defensively (take their recent 2-1 home defeat to Wigan last Monday).
Suffice to say, his job within the team isn’t just to sit back and mop up attacks as they come. He’s clearly been charged by Wenger to come forward when space opens up and try and make things happen with a decisive through-ball whenever possible. You can bet your bottom dollar that if Wenger had charged Song with acting as an old-fashioned defensive midfielder and he’d continued to gallivant about the pitch, he’d be sidelined almost immediately.
He’s a defensive midfielder in a distinctly Arsenal like sense. He’s flexible, versatile and surprisingly attacking minded. Those who claim that he should stay deep don’t seem to have a proper grasp on his talents.
Maybe that’s why Wenger’s interested in Rennes Yann M’Vila. He’s a physical, tough, tenacious defensively minded young midfielder who could provide a more organised alternative to Song. Whilst they may well by vying for the same position the truth is they are very different players.
What’s your take? Does Song need to reign it in and show some discipline or should he stick to his guns?
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