GUNNERS SILENCE DOUBTERS
Song leads the way as Arsenal show sublime early season form
NOT only did Arsenal silence a rabid and raucous Parkhead this week with their impressive 2-0 victory against Celtic, but also their many and varied critics.
In the space of a week, Arsene Wenger’s side have gone from the target of the media’s derision to the object of their affections. It has been some turnaround.
The sudden stampede to hail Arsenal is as unsurprising as it is hypocritical.
Since Wenger’s arrival, the club have always seemed to polarise media opinion from one day to the next: either they are in the midst of an overwhelming crisis or are drawing comparison with Brazil circa 1970. In truth, the reality lies somewhere in between.
Tuesday night’s victory in Glasgow – which has led to a hasty revision of media opinion – was arguably more impressive than the 6-1 humiliation of Everton last Saturday, such was the pressure on Wenger’s young team.
The club already have a financial noose around their neck following their migration to the Emirates Stadium, so missing out on the financial utopia of the Champions League group stages would be a heavy blow to absorb.
Would they be cowed by the Celtic Park roar, the doubters questioned.
They won’t be able to handle the rough stuff, sage commentators warned. The reality was they handled both with aplomb, led by the magnificent Alex Song at the base of Arsenal’s remodelled midfield. The Cameroon- ian does not usually catch the eye and the misinformed insist he will not make the grade at the Emirates. But reality, rather than received wisdom, tells a different story.
Since Christmas, Song’s progression has been as quick as it has been impressive and is the key reason why Wenger seems to be resisting the catcalls to buy a defensive midfielder. It may also be why he has rejected the chance to reunite with Patrick Vieira.
Long held up by the media, and some sections of the Arsenal support, as a symbol of Wenger’s increasing myopia in terms of his inexperienced squad, Song is blossoming and justifying his manager’s faith.
So too, is new signing Thomas Vermaelen, who, after an eye-catching start to life in England, has already drawn comparison with Manchester United’s Nemanja Vidic.
It is way too soon for that, though. All that should be said is that both Vermaelen and Song have started the season impressively, as have their side. Any more would merely be hyperbole.
Do not believe the hype that is sure to suddenly engulf Wenger’s squad.
They still look short in certain areas, most notably at centre back and in midfield (Song will be missing for a month in January at the Africa Cup of Nations), and they will still need all the cards to fall perfectly in place for them if they are to win the Premier League or Champions League.
But the promise that Wenger has always insisted is there is gradually being realised, by the players, the fans and, slowly, by the media. – The Telegraph
RUNNING THE SHOW: Alex Song is the base of the Arsenal midfield