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August Player of the Month

With Arsenal beginning the season reasonably well, there have been a fair few candidates for the August Player of the Month award. Despite the apparent allergy to clean sheets, the centre back pairing have earned plenty of the plaudits as they look to forge a partnership that Toure and Gallas clearly never could. Vermaelen has been the anathema of the light and nippy Toure; a built and uncompromising centre half that relishes the physical battle and throws his body on the line with scant regard for his own safety. His last ditch tackle at Celtic Park as the home side threatened to score on the counter seems to suggest that he is not quite the slouch on the turn that the Premiership`s physically imposing centre halves appear to be. I have also read this week that Arsenal have in effect signed two centre halves as Vermaelen has bought the best form out of William Gallas. That is frankly myopic bollocks crafted to fit a counterfeit article because Gallas has been immense ever since last November. It is also woefully premature to place the partnership on a pedestal just yet, with better finishing Portsmouth might well have blemished our score sheet more often than they did. New signings will always get more leeway from supporters; I still remember Cygan and Stepanovs being revered as the natural successors to Keown and Bould in their opening games for the club. Despite having yet to register as a goal scorer this campaign, Robin van Persie can also be pleased with his altruistic team work in creating space for his team mates thus far.

However, the true success of the campaign in its embryonic stages has been the midfield. Charged with extra responsibility with three forwards, much has depended on the fluidity in position of the midfield and their ability to maintain their pressing game. Song and Denilson have formed an axis akin to Mascherano and Alonso, with Song playing the enforcer role. Pressing opponents and harrying them into surrendering possession. With Song playing "bad cop", Denilson sits slightly deeper, providing the outlet for the pass, anticipating the loose ball and tying up the loose ends. This liberates Fabregas or Diaby to accentuate their strengths in midfield. The syncretism between Song and Denilson has been the success in our midfield in the first five matches, incredible when you consider that Arsenal still had not found any semblance of midfield chemistry in the entire ten months of 2008-09- using two semi finals as a laboratory to experiment with new permutations in the engine room.

With this in mind, the Player of the Month for August really is a toss up between Alexandre Song Billong and Denilson Pereira de Neves. How do I call it? Flip a coin, because both are equally deserving, however I`m going to side with Alex Song. Why? For trivial reasons; as is necessary when a contest is so tight. Firstly, I have never given it to Song before. Secondly, because Denilson signed a new deal today and undoubtedly got a pay rise as it is! But thirdly and most importantly, I think Denilson`s early season form is a continuation of last season; whereas, though Song showed signs of progression last year, he appears to be walking a few inches taller this season. The fact that the manager did not appear to make any serious move for a defensive midfielder showed confidence in Song who has continued his progression, not cutting the same nervous figure that first came into the first team with the occasional performance that suggested he had a future. Since his loan spell at Charlton, confidence does not seem to have been such an issue.

Song and Denilson appear to work so well together as their qualities are so different. Alone in the defensive midfield role, I think Song sometimes lacks the positional sense Denilson has, hence the reason he sometimes chases around to the point of exhaustion which previously caused him to fade badly in games and pick up cheap bookings with sloppy, cumbersome challenges. Denilson has a little more sangfroid off the ball. However, Denilson does not have Song`s presence and height- which helps Arsenal greatly when defending set pieces. But Song`s most marked improvement has been how he uses possession. Where once he was erratic, now he is majestic. Beating players with mesmerising close control one never would have thought possible a year ago, before using the ball tidily and effectively. Whilst some young players have the requisite talent for a club like Arsenal, not all have the mentality. Big games are where big players relish the challenge and stamp their mark on a game. As much as I do not particularly like the man, you have to concede that this is where Wayne Rooney has always exceeded, when the eyes of the world are squarely on him, he plays like he has something to prove. Some people you squeeze and they fold; others you squeeze and they focus. Song walked into the match at Old Trafford on Saturday and helped Arsenal boss the midfield to the point that Carrick and Fletcher were left to commit a myriad of cynical fouls. Song has already shown great psychological attributes to bounce back from a mauling from his own "supporters" on his Premiership debut in November 2006, but now he is looking like showing an aptitude for the big match. Let`s hope Song stays in tune for a good few months yet.LD.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday September 2 2009

Time: 9:58PM

Your Comments

That has to be a good call. Song has looked good. Denilson, like Gilberto for much of the time he was here, is a difficult player to appreciate but well worth his nomination. I might have been tempted to give it to Gallas myself with contributions in defense and attack. Not that he knew a great deal about 2 of the 3 goals he scored but even those demonstrate remarkable positional sense! Being in the right place at the right time is rare knack.
Amos.
Gallas would get it for me, but it is as you say, a toss up between these two - fantastic so far. And you describe them perfectly.
Tom14
Good job LD! Well thought through and the presentaion excellent as ussual. The whole defence and mid-field deserve the award, however it must go to only one person and I would rather SONG. What trips me most is how Song automatically fills in when Galas or Verminator go forward.
phreddy
Can't argue with that. I also think Gallas, Vermaelan, Sagna, Clichy and Denilson have all been excellent.
Rocky7
Just goes to prove you've gotta have faith in the Prof as he seems to manage to find outstanding talent from all over ... oh to have someone like that leading Pompey forward.
jim4pompey
Definitely hard to choose between Gallas-Verminator-Song-Denilson, but, hey, as LD notes, Denilson got his new contract deservedly. Anyway, it's good to have so many candidates for PoM for a change! @jum4pompey I truly feel sorry for the state of your club at the moment and detest even more than before Redknapp for it. But chin up - watching the last couple of matches against your side, I think your team are far better than the table shows and have some good players trying to play good football. If the club gets its stability sorted out, then you'll bounce back. Just don't hate Pires any more. :)
ForeverPires
Good call,Song has been nothing short of excelent and Denii supports him well and to tell the truth i think when he foes to the ACN he will be missed but i feel Wenger feels Denii will fall back in there or maybe play a more disciplined 4-2-3-1 with Denii and Diaby seating ahead of the back four and letting Cesc,Arshavin and Nasri[Walcott,Bendt52] support Van-P. heard Jamie Redknapp talk up Song and Denii and i think that game really shoed most other people that those two are going to be great fro Arsenal not jus now but even more so for the future
Casicky7
Sorry for going off subject, but has anyone seen this: http://www.football365.com/story/0,17033,8652_5535065,00.html
navydave
The news that UEFA's anti-diving "campaign" will end with Eduardo is not a surprise. Have you guys also heard about this: http://www.sport.co.uk/news/Football/26272/Diaby_injures_another_French_star_in_training.aspx Diaby’s a train wreck right now!
jaelle
I may have been tempted to go with Vermaelen, given his newness to the PL and his team mates. However, I am happy to go with Song. I hope he can continue his good form, and turn in these performances more consistantly. Nice article LD.
CockneyRich1
I would've gone Gallas, just ahead of Denilson, with Song and Vermaelen close behind. Will be interesting to see if both central pairings continue to flourish, we could be in for a very exciting season if they do.
Ozi Gooner
Ozi! You're opting for Gallas? Wow, he must have played well, perhaps I should rethink? :-)
Little Dutch
My opinions on Gallas have definitely changed in the past 6 months
Ozi Gooner
Ozi is a good chap, he is willing to have his opinion changed by good/bad performances... apart from Almunia of course ;-)
Tom14
This was a good month to analyse, with so many good performers. I remember this was a struggle for LD on many occassions last season, and I hope that this continues this season. Song is a good call, although I wouldnt have quibbled if it had been Vermaelen simply for adapting so quickly to the PL. If you notice a lot, or most of Wenger's signing have bedded in almost instantly - Nasri, Sagna, Vermalen, Eduardo....and that been so crucial.
prits
I'd have to give it to Vermaelen. Denilson, Song, and Gallas improved massively at different stages last season, but Vermaelen has just come into the team and made an instant impact.
gunnerkid107
if you missed it, here it is, Eduardo didn't dive. and here's the proof: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhQF9h4x4Lw .... this all from a Chelsea fan mind you.
zg2000fs
Good call there, agreed, though I'm tempted to give it to Gallas too. But the fact that we've mentioned at least 4 players in the comments here is an encouraging sign. Vermaelen is doing a bit of a Nasri, enjoying a surprisingly good start. But we can expect a bit of ups and downs yet, it's his first year, fingers crossed he stays fit too.
GoonerLou
zg2000fs, if you didn't miss it, Eduardo dived.
Tom14
Tom14.. that's why I posted it here, so that you can look at it Tom14, and see for yourself. Hopefully, you're not blind.
zg2000fs
He still dived, even if there was contact.
Tom14
Sure. You know what he did and you know how it is when you're in full speed and someone practically stand on your heel. Sorry. I don't know why I even bothered coming here at all. You are just not worth it.
zg2000fs
So somebody "stood on his heel" did they? Sorr, I don't care what anyone tells me, even if it was to protect himself, Eduardo dived. I am not bothered by it in the slightest, but lets not be silly.
Tom14
Yh Eduardo did dive but Rooney vs Slovenia??? In my book its just as bad
gunner24
Tom youre right. He cheated and aslong as UEFA have the balls to ban all divers in the Champions league this season then wel all be happy. Where i have sympathy with you goons is that we all know that this wont happen. The circus that followed afterwards was as if Eduardo invented diving. Im with Uefa and Fifa if they really want to clean up football - Both the Chelsea and Arsenal punishments are correct if these standards are met all the time. But will they dare take on Real Madrid when winker dives next? Otherwise these pathetic, lazy and naieve anti-english conspiracy theorys will remain.
HuddersfieldYiddo
 

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