Monday 27 February 2017

Song praises Gunners' new-found harmony

Sam Wallace

Alex Song says Arsenal's Champions League progress demonstrates they have turned a corner after their 8-2 defeat to Manchester United in August and the frantic transfer deadline day signings following the departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.

The Arsenal midfielder was instrumental in creating the first goal for Robin van Persie in his team's 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday night which means Arsenal are not just the only English team already qualified for the first knockout round of the Champions League, but group winners as well.

It was Song who was retrospectively banned for three matches for a stamp on Joey Barton that went unseen by the referee Peter Walton in Arsenal's first game of the season against Newcastle -- an absence which contributed to his club's dire start.

However, he has hit form in time to galvanise a revival that has been built on Van Persie's remarkable goalscoring record.

Song said: "We started (the season) very badly and it is not easy when you have new players coming in. You need to give them time and you can see now that we are not like we were two months ago. We manage very well and we try to help each other out.

"Maybe some people are very hard on Arsenal; I don't know why. We are just trying to do the job and winning (against Dortmund) shows everyone (who were critical) they were wrong.

"When you play for a team like Arsenal you want just to finish all the time at the top of the league. We have to win every game."

Crucially from Arsene Wenger's point of view, he will not lose Song to African Nations Cup duty in January after Cameroon failed to qualify for the tournament in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea for the first time since 1994.

Asked whether Wenger was glad Cameroon had not qualified, Song said: "You will have to ask him, but for me it is not good, because Cameroon is one of the big teams in Africa."

With Gervinho due to be called up by Ivory Coast -- as well as Marouane Chamakh (Morocco) and potentially Emmanuel Frimpong (Ghana) -- Song's availability will be crucial for Arsenal

In the absence of the injured Jack Wilshere, Song has struck up an effective midfield understanding with Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey. But, the Cameroonian says the club need Wilshere back as soon as possible.

"Jack is a very good player," Song said. "He will be welcome into the team because we need him, we need everyone." (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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