Looking back at the last season of the English Premier League, we have witnessed some memorable moments. From the sublime finishing of Robin van Persie earning him the Golden Boot, to the staggering end to the season by Manchester City. However, there are some unsung heroes that don’t get the deserved mention when we talk about the best in the league. One such unsung hero is Arsenal midfielder Alex Song. Ever since he joined Arsenal for £1m, Song has grown up to be a prolific midfielder at the club.
Surely one of basic reasons for Arsenal finishing 3rd last season was Robin van Persie but the main reason behind van Persie’s success was the brilliance from Theo Walcott and Alex Song. How many times have we seen those unbelievably accurate balls from Song that just need a tap in! Despite all his efforts and consistency, Song may not be receiving the reward that he deserves. When the PFA team of the season was announced, I was surprised not to find Alex Song in it. In fact, there was one name in it that baffled me – Scott Parker. Including Scott Parker in the team of the season was certainly the joke of the season. Last season, Scott Parker did nothing. If completing passes was the reason he was selected ahead of Song then it just proves to be the joke of the season. In fact, even that is not why Parker was included in the team. Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta was another man who had a better season. Parker had a good time at West Ham United but his impact for Tottenham Hotspur was pretty ordinary, just like the performance of his team as a whole, ending yet another season in the shadows of their neighbours, Arsenal FC. Unless you make a serious impact for your club, you do not deserve to be in the team of the season and unlike Alex Song, I can’t remember any such moment from last season that may put Scott Parker in that league.
Goals: 0 + 1 (for West Ham)
Pass success: 89.5%
Pass success: 84.3%
Pass success: 90.8%
It is clear that Scott Parker was included in the team of the season for some mysterious reasons. Alex Song was ranked 4th in assists and played a major role in Arsenal’s comeback after a horrific start to the season. Many games that Arsenal won were due to the fantastic creativity from Alex Song. The win against Everton where Robin van Persie scored the only goal, was created by Song. The assist to Thierry Henry’s winning goal in the FA Cup against Leeds. The assist to van Persie’s winning goal at Anfield. His assist to van Persie against Norwich City. These were some critical moments for Arsenal and it was all credit to Alex Song. He was one of the players that deserved to be in the PFA team of the season. His contribution to Arsenal’s success was momentous.
The rumours floating around that Yann M’Vila might be coming to Arsenal this season to replace Song are completely false. Yes, M’Vila has been strongly linked with Arsenal but he is not coming as a replacement. The main role of Song in the midfield was to provide cover to the back four. However, his urge to go forward left the back four exposed at times. Yann M’Vila is a disciplined defensive midfielder. He will do his job in his position but he will not provide that extra advantage of going forward and creating goals. His last season with Rennes proves that point. Arsenal do need a player like Yann M’Vila to provide assistance to the back four but surely not at the expense of Alex Song, without whom Arsenal might not have been close to top 4 by the end of the season. It is due his outstanding season that top clubs like Real Madrid and Inter Milan are planning a bid for him.
With both Alex Song and Yann M’Vila, Arsene Wenger will have a variety of options in the midfield. Perhaps that is what Arsenal need to bring back the glory days. Alex Song’s defensive weaknesses can be filled by Yann M’Vila. Now if you add up Alex Song’s defensive weaknesses and Yann M’Vila’s lack of attack, you may perhaps get a Scott Parker. With due respect to Scott Parker’s contribution to West Ham United, he is undoubtedly one of the most overrated players in Europe and Alex Song is surely one of the most underrated players.
(Follow on Twitter: @mugaisj)