Arsenal back on song after summer woes

 

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. The players that joined [in late August], have tried to be the best and we have very good cohesion. I think that is very important.

"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. Everything is working and we don't want just to keep it like this, we want to look forward. When you play for a team like Arsenal you want just to finish all the time the top on the league. We have the Carling Cup soon and we have to win every game."

On finishing top of Champions League Group F with a game to spare, Song said: "Of course [it is important], because last season we dropped some points [finishing second] and this season we didn't want to make the same mistake. It is very important for us to finish the job and we did, so everyone is happy."

Crucially from the Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger's point of view, he will not lose Song to African Nations Cup duty in January after Cameroon, traditionally one of the strongest football nations on the continent, 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. For him, I don't know whether he is happy for me to stay here..." 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 significant for Arsenal

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

"Jack is a very good player and we need everyone," Song said. "When we have everyone fit we are more strong and confident. We need every player because we have a lot of games. Everyone has their job to do in the team. When everyone comes back we see another Arsenal play.

"We never know who is starting the game. It is just the case that the boss makes the choice. If Jack comes back he will be welcome into the team because we need him, we need everyone."

News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices