With Alex Song in inspired form, it begs the question who will replace him when he leaves for the African Cup of Nations in January?
The obvious candidates are Abou Diaby and Denilson. In my opinion, they are not good enough to play every game for Arsenal. They are great squad players, with lots of potential. However, not many titles and shiny trophies are won with potential players being given a go. Sure, a few are given a chance and take it.
I don’t think that they have really seized the opportunity that Arsene Wenger has privileged them with. He has stuck by them but both give the ball away and no way should they be trusted to protect the defence.
The defensive role has become probably the most important role as the game has developed, almost becoming an undetectable player (think Busquets in last season’s Champions League final). They should break up potential attacks from the opposition and the work they do is tireless. Not only do they stop easy access to centre backs, they give the ball to flair-tastic players who hope to build moves themselves. They are unsung heroes but without them, nothing is achieved.
Claude Makélélé invented the role and did it fantastically at Real Madrid and Chelsea. Now, every top quality team has a defensive player in the starting eleven. Arsenal had one in Vieira and then Flamini. Since then the closest they’ve had to the Frenchmen is Alex Song. He has improved so dramatically, and Arsenal look unsafe without him. T
he game against Wolves was a sign that Diaby won’t cut it. Wenger wanted to see if his team could cope without the defensive lynchpin and it turns out, they couldn’t. Denilson still has to come back from injury and may improve but I think the only candidate there can be is the rugged Samir Nasri.
It may seem strange considering he plays as an attacking midfielder or on the wing, but he has quick feet, can tackle and is strong. He is usually one of Arsenal’s most hardworking players always runs and runs for the cause. He also gives Clichy a bit of protection down the wings so there is no reason why he can’t do it in the centre. Him and Cesc Fabregas could really tick.
He gave us a hint of his talent in the position when he was deployed there in the semi finals of the Champions League against Manchester United, one of the few to come out of the game not criticised. It would also give Arsene Wenger the chance to field all his stars in the starting line-up. He is very young, and has bags of talent and could help Arsenal in the absence of Song.
I almost forgot, Wenger could actually sign someone in the January transfer window! He tried to sign Melo, now of Juve in the summer, but in my opinion Song has repaid the faith Wenger has shown. If Arsenal are no longer in the Carling Cup, he could give youngsters Craig Eastmond or Coquelin a chance. Surely that would be a little too much to ask of the up and coming starlets? It’s a definite possibility, should injuries pile up, but won’t be the first choice Arsene will consider.
I recently heard that Darren Fletcher was the most improved player in Europe. I don’t know what so great about a player who continues to kick and commit fouls and somehow has escaped a red card this season. If you’re looking to heap praise on a up and coming defensive midfielder, look no further than Alex Song. Arsenal, however have problems as no player comes close in his position. It will be interesting come January.