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April Player of the Month

Picking a Player of the Month for April is a tasking quest indeed. Injuries that looked to be clearing up at the end of March have become prescient in the ranks once again. So the comebacks of Cesc Fabregas, who has helped himself to seven assists and two goals this month, and Emmanuel Adebayor, who has scored three (including a wonder goal against Villarreal) have been offset by injuries to Clichy, Gallas and van Persie- all of whom are regular contenders for the award. But where there is crisis, there is opportunity, Fabregas and Nasri have had to adapt to new roles in the team whilst a serious contender for the award would have to be young Kieran Gibbs. There are baptisms of fire, then there are your first senior games (Carling Cup withstanding) at Old Trafford, Anfield and Wembley. That he has not looked out of place at any venue is to his great credit, not just talent wise, but in terms of mental fortitude. Andrey Arshavin continues to prove his immense worth to the side, most notably his four goal salvo at Anfield added to his strike at Wigan, but his two assists as well. Arshavin continues to add a lot of what has been missing from the Arsenal jigsaw with his speed of thought and his instant, first time passing. He is not afraid to be decisive in front of goal either, witness his first time strike at Wigan as well as his second at Anfield, robbing Arbeloa of the ball before walloping it into the net without so much as a second thought. He reminds me slightly of Bergkamp in front of goal, if a finish requires finesse, he will duly caress it into the net. But make no mistake, if the situation calls for a hefty piece of leather behind the ball, Arshavin is happy to swing back the forehand and administer the brutal uppercut.

However, Arshavin`s European ineligibility counts slightly against him, and whilst it is very tempting to award him a second player of the month gong in a row, I just cannot ignore the improvement in one player. In November 2006, on his full Premiership debut, Alex Song was mauled by the travelling Arsenal fans to the extent that he had to be hauled off by his manager. The abuse aimed at Song, then 19, was senseless. That evening at Craven Cottage was possibly the worst performance of the Wenger era, yet a visceral section of Gooners ignored the ten more senior underperformers and focused their poison on a 19 year old. It looked to be the death knell of his Arsenal career. Song became something of an anathema amongst Arsenal fans (predominantly amongst the supporters who did not go to Carling Cup games and who had not seen him play). But Wenger persisted, assuring us that "Song will be a very big player for us, you`ll see." It astounds me that people are still willing to question Wenger`s judgement of young players. This is particularly relevant to the case of Nicklas Bendtner who, most believe, has been given ample chance to show his mettle. The word from the inside of the club is that Wenger considers Bendtner to be one of Arsenal`s brightest sparks in training, hence he is persisting with him now until that potential enunciates itself on the pitch. He sees some talent in Bendtner worth mining, it has been the same with Song too. Since February, Song has begun to show a few different strings to his bow.

Signs of embryonic promise have fluctuated; during our run to the 2007 Carling Cup Final, Song was probably our best player before injury cruelly robbed him of a final berth. Masterful performances in the defensive midfield role at grounds such as Goodison Park, Anfield and White Hart Lane marked him as a player of potential. Unfortunately, being that these were Carling Cup away fixtures, the majority of Gooners did not get a chance to see his unmasked potential and chose to side with the ignorant jibber jabber of the majority of Arsenal blogs who had also not seen these games. Yet more promise has manifestly presaged itself with his masterful shackling of Steven Gerrard in the league fixture with Liverpool in December. Arsenal`s F.A. Cup run afforded Song a run of games in the February and March period and he has flourished, the confidence pouring out of him. Two brilliant assists in the Burnley cup tie and another thoughtful back-heel for Eboue in the 4-0 demolition of Blackburn showed that Song was not merely a midfield destroyer. The month of April has shown that this has been no ephemeral phenomenon. Against City at the beginning of a hectic April, he easily coped with the threats of Robinho, Elano and Wright Phillips. Song had arrived at the point where Wenger found it difficult to drop him, choosing instead to select both Song and Denilson in a dual defensive midfield role with Fabregas pushing further up. After admittedly being over run by a Senna inspired Villarreal in the first half in Spain, Song and Denilson stepped up in the second half and really began to dictate the midfield, unchastened by their first half experience.

For the league fixture against Wigan, Denilson was pushed out wide to accommodate Song in a central role. He did not disappoint either, earning the man of the match award as well as elucidating how untethered his play has become lately with a delightful saunter past three Wigan defenders before planting the ball into the net. In the home leg against Villarreal he was charged with the unenviable task of shackling Robert Pires. He did so with distinction, the two players swapped shirts at the final whistle, the truth is that Pires` shirt had been in Song`s pocket for quite some time before executing that congenial gesture. Song was then rested for the F.A. Cup Semi Final defeat to Chelsea, a decision that causes some considerable consternation amongst Arsenal fans and cited as one of the key reasons for defeat. The very people that derided him having not seen him play in the flesh, were now apoplectic with rage that he had been excluded for a game of this magnitude. "The hapless soldier`s sigh/ Runs in blood down Palace walls" as William Blake once put it. (Though I can`t pretend to be entirely sure he was talking about Alex Song then). We football fans are fickle creatures indeed. What price that when Wenger rests Nicklas Bendtner for the 2011 Semi Final against Liverpool, fans will take to blood lined streets in protest?

Song still has plenty to learn though, the 4-4 draw with Liverpool at Anfield saw him play with authority and conviction, hounding the Liverpool midfielders all he could. However, Liverpool`s threat comes from slightly deeper without Gerrard, with Alonso and Mascherano pulling the strings. Song was also one of the few players to emerge from Old Trafford with any credit, but in truth, the relentless pressing of Fletcher, Carrick and Anderson left him outnumbered. He bought the ball forwards with intelligence and vigour, but his positional sense still needs to be a bit more savvy as he was left unsure whether to press back against United`s midfield trio, or whether to sit back and screen his back four against the threat of Rooney and Ronaldo. However, the vital signs are good, he is visibly learning with each game and now seems to have dislodged the unerringly consistent Denilson as our first choice defensive midfielder, Arsene has even changed his system to help accommodate him this month. My personal opinion is that the experimentation with that system may be over, it will be interesting to see where Song fits in in a more conventional 4-4-2 alongside Fabregas. But on this month`s evidence, he has the ability to adapt.LD.

Previous Winners:
August: Samir Nasri
September: Theo Walcott
October: Robin van Persie
November: Aaron Ramsey
December: Denilson
January: Robin van Persie
February: William Gallas
March: Andrey Arshavin




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday May 1 2009

Time: 1:35PM

Your Comments

Nice article. Not my prefered choice, but not one I would argue with. He's been a bit sloppy in the last couple of games, but otherwise he has impressed me immensely. My choice without a shadow of a doubt would have to be Kieran Gibbs. To play in these massive games with such a cool head without any real experience is just mind blowing to me.......and not even in his prefered position.
Rocky7
Nice article. Not my prefered choice, but not one I would argue with. He's been a bit sloppy in the last couple of games, but otherwise he has impressed me immensely. My choice without a shadow of a doubt would have to be Kieran Gibbs. To play in these massive games with such a cool head without any real experience is just mind blowing to me.......and not even in his prefered position.
Rocky7
Agreed...Gibbs wins it for me..Song has been good too.
number14
Agreed...Gibbs wins it for me..Song has been good too.
number14
Gibbs came very, very close. The thing that shaded it for Song for me was that Gibbs has been thrown in at the deep end with no preconceptions about his ability and sometimes it is better that way for a young player when there is no expectation and they are thrown in without having to think about it. I remember against Norwich a few years ago, Cygan was injured in the warm up and Hoyte was called up to play CB at the last moment and Wenger said that that is sometimes the best way with a young player. Song's had to work incredibly hard and put up with a lot of ***** from a lot of people to get here. There was a cigarette paper between him and Gibbs, Gibbs was unfortunate at Anfield in that he wasn't protected much and did get a bit of a mauling. But people will always be a tad more forgiving with young English players. See the case of Bendtner v Walcott, very similar in terms of their progression, similarly frustrating but capable of producing great numbers of goals and assists, both hint at a great deal more to come. Bendtner is berated and Walcott is worshipped. That's purely down to nationality.
Little Dutch
Gibbs came very, very close. The thing that shaded it for Song for me was that Gibbs has been thrown in at the deep end with no preconceptions about his ability and sometimes it is better that way for a young player when there is no expectation and they are thrown in without having to think about it. I remember against Norwich a few years ago, Cygan was injured in the warm up and Hoyte was called up to play CB at the last moment and Wenger said that that is sometimes the best way with a young player. Song's had to work incredibly hard and put up with a lot of ***** from a lot of people to get here. There was a cigarette paper between him and Gibbs, Gibbs was unfortunate at Anfield in that he wasn't protected much and did get a bit of a mauling. But people will always be a tad more forgiving with young English players. See the case of Bendtner v Walcott, very similar in terms of their progression, similarly frustrating but capable of producing great numbers of goals and assists, both hint at a great deal more to come. Bendtner is berated and Walcott is worshipped. That's purely down to nationality.
Little Dutch
Gibbs has done well but he is being judged by different standards - less is expected from him though he has performed very well given the challenge he has been given. Song has done well in adding more bite to the midfield and has certainly answered his detractors in full. He has done his job well in a busy month and I wouldn't argue with the choice but I might have also considered Toure who has, I think, started every match and looked to be back to something like his best in most games.
Amos.
Gibbs has done well but he is being judged by different standards - less is expected from him though he has performed very well given the challenge he has been given. Song has done well in adding more bite to the midfield and has certainly answered his detractors in full. He has done his job well in a busy month and I wouldn't argue with the choice but I might have also considered Toure who has, I think, started every match and looked to be back to something like his best in most games.
Amos.
Toure does look like he's coming back to his best but I agree that Song has been the stand out player for Arsenal in the last month. Whilst he's a different player, I think he can be that dominant physical player we haven't had since Vieira left. Plus he's great in the air too. I like the idea of a CM with him and Cesc.
Gooner_Vin
Toure does look like he's coming back to his best but I agree that Song has been the stand out player for Arsenal in the last month. Whilst he's a different player, I think he can be that dominant physical player we haven't had since Vieira left. Plus he's great in the air too. I like the idea of a CM with him and Cesc.
Gooner_Vin
Toure has played well as an individual, but without Gallas I still don't think he can organise a defence and provide inspiration and leadership for others.
Little Dutch
Toure has played well as an individual, but without Gallas I still don't think he can organise a defence and provide inspiration and leadership for others.
Little Dutch
I pretty much love Alex Song. Got to admit, there was a time when I never thought he'd make it as a midfielder at Arsenal (although he had impressed me when he'd been asked to play at the back in the Carling Cup, looked like a young King Kolo!), but I'm glad he's proved me wrong. Inevitably, as he's still so young, his form will dip again at some point though, and I just hope the fans don't turn on him again. Also, speaking of reformed players, he's no player of the month contender but Eboue just keeps going from strength to strength. Happy for him too.
TheBoyInRed&White
I pretty much love Alex Song. Got to admit, there was a time when I never thought he'd make it as a midfielder at Arsenal (although he had impressed me when he'd been asked to play at the back in the Carling Cup, looked like a young King Kolo!), but I'm glad he's proved me wrong. Inevitably, as he's still so young, his form will dip again at some point though, and I just hope the fans don't turn on him again. Also, speaking of reformed players, he's no player of the month contender but Eboue just keeps going from strength to strength. Happy for him too.
TheBoyInRed&White
Arshavin should have be named man of the month..
Leonax
Arshavin should have be named man of the month..
Leonax
I think he has work on his finishing but I agree with LD he is been outstanding in most games i have seen him. We are now able to see what the manager saw from day one. I would prefer to see him in defence. I think he one player in our sqaud he would not be bullied by Drogba.
King Kolo
I think he has work on his finishing but I agree with LD he is been outstanding in most games i have seen him. We are now able to see what the manager saw from day one. I would prefer to see him in defence. I think he one player in our sqaud he would not be bullied by Drogba.
King Kolo
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jaelle
BREAKING NEWS - STAN KROENKE HAS INCREASED HIS STAKE IN ARSENAL HOLDINGS TO 28.3% WITH PURCHASES FROM THE CARR FAMILY INCLUDING FOOTBALL CLUB DIRECTOR RICHARD CARR. HAS BOUGHT A TOTAL OF 4,839 FURTHER SHARES FOR PRICES OF 8,500 AND 10,500 TO TAKE HIM TO 17,613 OF THE 62,217 ISSUED SHARES. http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/arsenal-holdings-plc-director-shareholding
jaelle
I'm tempted to give it to Kieran too. Only a few marks were deducted from his positional sense in defence, e.g. at Anfield and against OT, otherwise I thought he been better and defensively more solid than Armand Traore was at LB. But as some of you said, I wouldn't argue against Song either. He's shown so much improvement that he kept out Den who had had a good 2/3 of the season before Song's rise to the CM spot. I take your points re the different levels of pressure they endured and expectations due to their respective age/experience so Song is a good choice.
GoonerLou
I'm tempted to give it to Kieran too. Only a few marks were deducted from his positional sense in defence, e.g. at Anfield and against OT, otherwise I thought he been better and defensively more solid than Armand Traore was at LB. But as some of you said, I wouldn't argue against Song either. He's shown so much improvement that he kept out Den who had had a good 2/3 of the season before Song's rise to the CM spot. I take your points re the different levels of pressure they endured and expectations due to their respective age/experience so Song is a good choice.
GoonerLou
Great write-up, loved reading that bit about Bendtner. Amy Lawrence said in a recent arsecast she thinks he'll grow into a very good 20-25 goal a season striker. I like Nikky a lot. Agree with every word said here about Song and Gibbs. Amazing how the media hasn't given Gibbs more attention given their supposed concern over English players at Arsenal. Actually, it's not amazing, it's par for the course. If he'd been playing at Utd we'd be saturated with coverage about him. As to Song--extraordinary how effective AW is in keeping these kids from not collapsing in total surrender and confidence after that kind of treatment at such a young age. Song seems like a toughminded guy, I'm just curious if he'll wind up primarily a DM or CB.
jaelle
Great write-up, loved reading that bit about Bendtner. Amy Lawrence said in a recent arsecast she thinks he'll grow into a very good 20-25 goal a season striker. I like Nikky a lot. Agree with every word said here about Song and Gibbs. Amazing how the media hasn't given Gibbs more attention given their supposed concern over English players at Arsenal. Actually, it's not amazing, it's par for the course. If he'd been playing at Utd we'd be saturated with coverage about him. As to Song--extraordinary how effective AW is in keeping these kids from not collapsing in total surrender and confidence after that kind of treatment at such a young age. Song seems like a toughminded guy, I'm just curious if he'll wind up primarily a DM or CB.
jaelle
This guys means business eh? I'm still not sure what to make of his ever-increasing presence... But for sure better him than the Fat One.
GoonerLou
This guys means business eh? I'm still not sure what to make of his ever-increasing presence... But for sure better him than the Fat One.
GoonerLou
Yeah Jaelle, my big question mark remains: DM or CB? He's clearly got the talent and preference to stay in midfield. He even sent a few Cesc-esque through balls to the forwards, I like his all-round game. His last goal against Wigan also tells us that he's not afraid to have a run, beat the defender and take a shot himself, something that Flamini or Gilberto wouldn't do. I guess we have to see beyond April and observe, given a run of games, whether the 'lack of stamina' thing that Arsene counted against him as a long-term DM before remains an issue.
GoonerLou
Yeah Jaelle, my big question mark remains: DM or CB? He's clearly got the talent and preference to stay in midfield. He even sent a few Cesc-esque through balls to the forwards, I like his all-round game. His last goal against Wigan also tells us that he's not afraid to have a run, beat the defender and take a shot himself, something that Flamini or Gilberto wouldn't do. I guess we have to see beyond April and observe, given a run of games, whether the 'lack of stamina' thing that Arsene counted against him as a long-term DM before remains an issue.
GoonerLou
Should success be judged by trophies? http://pbwws.livejournal.com/4666.html - interesting piece defending Arsenal, linked from the Independent.
jaelle
Should success be judged by trophies? http://pbwws.livejournal.com/4666.html - interesting piece defending Arsenal, linked from the Independent.
jaelle
There is no question in my mind that Song will be a DM. He was average at CB for me. He looked good at times, but he was always going to end up as a DM. I think that he has upped his stamina over this year and his tecacity/work rate that we criticized him for earlier in the season. I have always been a huge fan, Denilson has been a star in my eyes, but he is not in the same destructive class as Song. The obvious player of the month. Arshavin maybe if he could have played against Man Utd and been picked in the FA Cup.
Tom14
There is no question in my mind that Song will be a DM. He was average at CB for me. He looked good at times, but he was always going to end up as a DM. I think that he has upped his stamina over this year and his tecacity/work rate that we criticized him for earlier in the season. I have always been a huge fan, Denilson has been a star in my eyes, but he is not in the same destructive class as Song. The obvious player of the month. Arshavin maybe if he could have played against Man Utd and been picked in the FA Cup.
Tom14
To be honest I can't think of one player I've hated more than Bentdner, the kid is absolutely useless, he shows no interest in any game I've ever watched, he can't control a ball, is too slow and can't shoot. I'd swap him for Darren Bent and pay Spurs 3 million
Frosty B
To be honest I can't think of one player I've hated more than Bentdner, the kid is absolutely useless, he shows no interest in any game I've ever watched, he can't control a ball, is too slow and can't shoot. I'd swap him for Darren Bent and pay Spurs 3 million
Frosty B
" The word from the inside of the club is that Wenger considers Bendtner to be one of Arsenal`s brightest sparks in training, hence he is persisting with him now until that potential enunciates itself on the pitch. He sees some talent in Bendtner worth mining". Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!....*****in classic!
Frosty B
" The word from the inside of the club is that Wenger considers Bendtner to be one of Arsenal`s brightest sparks in training, hence he is persisting with him now until that potential enunciates itself on the pitch. He sees some talent in Bendtner worth mining". Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!....*****in classic!
Frosty B
"he shows no interest in any game I've ever watched" -- obviously you haven't been watching him, so your opinion on him is worthless.
jaelle
"he shows no interest in any game I've ever watched" -- obviously you haven't been watching him, so your opinion on him is worthless.
jaelle
And who the ***** is Amy Lawrence, some middle class tw*t like Alan Davies or a plank like silly lofty that embarass our club. Time to ban the wally fans that drink in the Rocket and Arsenal Tavern, the ones who chant vile songs at the away fans then run away after the game when confronted by them. LOL
Frosty B
And who the ***** is Amy Lawrence, some middle class tw*t like Alan Davies or a plank like silly lofty that embarass our club. Time to ban the wally fans that drink in the Rocket and Arsenal Tavern, the ones who chant vile songs at the away fans then run away after the game when confronted by them. LOL
Frosty B
Frosty you want to go back to the Herd site...its full of proper supporters....EIE...not like these plastic fans
fran merida
Frosty you want to go back to the Herd site...its full of proper supporters....EIE...not like these plastic fans
fran merida
Good choice. Although it shows that Wenger gets things right about a player, I had my doubts about Song at CB. He always looked more solid and commanding in DM, and Wenger has thankfully seen that this season. Song has really improved, esp during the 2nd half of the season, and I'd have to say that Song and Denilson have both adequately replaced Flamini now. That hasnt been an issue for a few months. Good observation on Bendtner. I rate the lad and its only a matter of time before he comes good. He's certainly worth investing time on and I'd prefer to see him on the pitch trying to score and missing, rather than watch a useless Adebayor stroll around the pitch like he doesnt care.
prits
Good choice. Although it shows that Wenger gets things right about a player, I had my doubts about Song at CB. He always looked more solid and commanding in DM, and Wenger has thankfully seen that this season. Song has really improved, esp during the 2nd half of the season, and I'd have to say that Song and Denilson have both adequately replaced Flamini now. That hasnt been an issue for a few months. Good observation on Bendtner. I rate the lad and its only a matter of time before he comes good. He's certainly worth investing time on and I'd prefer to see him on the pitch trying to score and missing, rather than watch a useless Adebayor stroll around the pitch like he doesnt care.
prits
Van P{ersie, Adebayor & Bentner should all be sold along with that dumb***** Eboue
Frosty B
Van P{ersie, Adebayor & Bentner should all be sold along with that dumb***** Eboue
Frosty B
Forsty B, you have been playing too much fantasy manager. go to bed
Gooner SA
Forsty B, you have been playing too much fantasy manager. go to bed
Gooner SA
My head says Song, but my heart says Gibbs.........
hackneyval
My head says Song, but my heart says Gibbs.........
hackneyval
I think Gibbs has played well, but he has "looked" like he can replace Clichy, he has not played well enough to replace him. Remember, Clichy plays well in the big games against ROnaldo etc, we need to see him up against Stoke, Bolton and the other long ballers. And Frosty, sort it out make, or just stick with BBC 606 and The Sun forums.
Tom14
I think Gibbs has played well, but he has "looked" like he can replace Clichy, he has not played well enough to replace him. Remember, Clichy plays well in the big games against ROnaldo etc, we need to see him up against Stoke, Bolton and the other long ballers. And Frosty, sort it out make, or just stick with BBC 606 and The Sun forums.
Tom14
On much reflection I've decided to go with my head, so for me it's SONG for APRIL 's Player of the Month.
hackneyval
On much reflection I've decided to go with my head, so for me it's SONG for APRIL 's Player of the Month.
hackneyval
 

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