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
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
peopleBroadcaster has a new role bringing 'the big stories that matter' to US
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
Life and Style
Moves to regulate e-cigarettes and similar products as medicines come amid increasing evidence of their effectiveness
healthHuge anti-smoking campaign kicks off on Wednesday
Life and Style
fashionEveryone, apparently
Voices
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
art
Arts and Entertainment
Shia LaBeouf is one of Brad Pitt's favourite actors in the world ever, apparently
filmsAn 'eccentric' choice, certainly
Life and Style
An Internet security expert has warned that voice recognition technology needs to be more secure
techExperts warn hackers could control our homes or spend our money simply by speaking
Extras
indybest
News
peopleBenjamin Netanyahu trolled by group promoting two-state solution
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.

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style