Song leads the way as Arse­nal show sub­lime early sea­son form

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FOOTBALL - By ROB KELLY

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

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