Doubting Thomas’s red / Songtral defence

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Lionel roars

It’s now just a week to go until Barcelona roll into the Grove, and quite honestly, I think I can allow myself another dose of early excitement. Yes, I know there’s a crucial Premier League game at St. Andrews first up – they’re all crucial now – but without a midweek match there’s plenty of time to think about both.

It’s all about Messi, with his spectacular hat-trick against Zaragoza (“that’s for Nayim”, I muttered) well worth a watch if you’ve not seen it. He’s in such ridiculous form at the moment that the world’s pundits are running out of players to compare him to. I can’t wait to see him play to be honest. I’m sure Wenger will devise a cunning plan involving the periscope sprinklers to negate him.

One person who does find the whole thing a bit weird is Thierry Henry, who has said “I don’t want to play against Arsenal”. I can understand the sentiment but it’s still odd to be seen to be talking yourself out of a place in the starting XI. Perhaps he knows already that he’s unlikely to start?

Verm but fair

I was surprised to learn that Arsenal tonight appealed against Vermaelen’s red card on the grounds of wrongful dismissal. I must admit, I did think the club would take the one-match ban on the chin, but clearly they a) feel they can get this one overturned or b) are sufficiently worried about Saturday to give it a go. Presumably the FA cannot extend it further if the appeal fails?

Songtral defence

Having seen Song drop into central defence against West Ham, and do very well there, it does of course give us more options for Saturday, albeit at the expense of the holding midfield role in which the Cameroonian has so excelled this season. Given the proximity of the next two games, I’m inclined to think Campbell will play in only one of them, and seeing that Arsenal have appealed against Vermaelen’s red, it could well be that Sol is earmarked for Barcelona only. That would leave Song and Silvestre as the only option for this weekend, which might explain the appeal. I could of course be talking absolute guff, but Campbell and Vermaelen, with Song mopping up in front, would be my choice for Barcelona.

Right then, laters.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Yunusa okonkwo

    Good post me too will prefer incase the appeal does not go our way song to pair silvester so that campbell as an old man will be fresh against barcelona

  2. 433

    Not sure about Sol’s pace for tracking Messi’s runs.

  3. Vic

    Maybe Thierry doesn’t want to play? I am sure he will not be played because if I was Barca, I wouldn’t trust him to play against his foster parent with their full heart, especially for such a big game. A guy like Adebayor will say he loves to score against his old team(s), but would Henry? And would Pep take the chance?

    Regarding Song, I think I read somewhere that he actually prefers to play center back, but has had to adapt at holding mid at wenger’s direction. If you had to pick, would you choose Sol or Song for CB? And is moving Song to CB worth sacrificing his HM duties? What about Diaby as HM? At this point, I am feeling confident in Sol, but he is an old fart and sometimes just looks overrun on the pitch. And then he gets a second wind and knocks someone over and saves the day. Good thing its not up to me – in wenger we trust!

  4. Booland

    I actually would like Song & Vermaelen in defense for Barcelona game and in front Denilson, Diaby, Fabregas, Arshavin, Bendtner, Nasri. I waana see Diaby play,

    His hat trick against Valencia was even better. 2 hat trick in 2 weeks.

  5. billy

    Song might have the pace, but is witty enough to judge right almost every time the next moves of his opponents, So it gives me no worry at all for him taking on Messi. Barca is a match that would no one wants to stick with bad tricks, the ball will be flowing for sure, and Song strenghthening our backline will no cause any harms, unless we just let barca score their silly goals out of fear of which I also believe we are not.

  6. Stevie G

    During the first half against West Ham Song was awesome in that defensive midfield role for which he has previously been vilified for.
    His timing was excellent,his reading of the game was spot on on and he always appeared in just the right place when West Ham threatened.
    After the half time reorganisation following Vermaelens departure it is fair to say that he looked accomplished as a centre half but unfortunately the balance of the team did not.Those first ten minutes in the second half were highly anxious moments when we looked as if we could be undone at any stage.
    My interpretation of events was that this was purely due to Songs move from midfield to defence which left us rather exposed in the breaking down of the oppositions attacks.

    On a seperate note it was good to see Clichy return to his best form and congrats to Manuel for looking confident,catching the ball and not flapping at a cross once.

  7. marcus

    “Perhaps he knows already that he’s unlikely to start?”

    Henry has recently come back into the starting XI after a period of being on the bench because of Ibra’s recent form and attitude problems. That may be ending now as in his last 2 games, Ibra’s been working harder to get back in Guardiola’s good graces.

    “Presumably the FA cannot extend it further if the appeal fails?”

    Maybe the club feels they can risk Vermaelen’s absence in the next game, which is Wolves at home – they may feel it’s worth the risk.

    A couple of years ago, AW firmly said that he saw Song as a CB and only occasionally a DM – he felt that Song did not have the stamina to be a DM over a whole season. Obviously he changed his mind. Song has always been a DM for his national team.

    While Messi is Barca’s top goal scorer and a world class player, Barca are more than just Messi. It would be wrong to dismiss exciting, dangerous players like Pedro, Toure, Keita, Iniesta, Xavi, Bojan, etc. As for Messi, Chelsea marshalled him well over 2 games last season but he was still very dangerous creating chances. He needs to be heavily marked with power and intelligence and with no drop in concentration — the way Drogba was effectively marked by Samuel and Lucio in two games (something we have never been able to do). Our defenders need to be very careful with him because he knows how to get past several defenders and the only way they get the ball from him is by conceding fouls and penalties. It’s a cliche, but in this case it’s true: the ball quite literally looks to be connected to him by an invisible string.

  8. PD

    We need Song in central midfield against Barca.It’s not even up for debate imo.Denilson just cannot do the same things he can (he just doesn’t have the same power or speed) & against Barca if that gap in front of the back four is breached we’ve had it.
    It would be madness not to go with Song/Diaby/Cesc with Sol/Vermaelen at the back.It’s far too big a sacrifice to our midfield to move Song back.

    marcus – that stamina quote was about Kolo,not Song. Think he’s always acknowledged Song can play both positions.

    As for Messi….I’m not sure calling him ‘world-class’ is enough any more !! He is quite simply magnificent;an extraordinary footballer. In 30 years watching football he’s the first player I’ve seen who’s even comes close to being as good as Maradona….

  9. marcus

    PD: “that stamina quote was about Kolo,not Song” — no, it wasn’t. He may have said that about Kolo (never heard him say it, tho) but he most definitely said it about Song. He said it in the 2007 shareholders Q&A session that was shown on the official website (it’s still there to watch). And I watched that session 3 times because it was a very interesting Q&A and Arsene was (as usual) very interesting to watch and listen to.

    He most definitely was talking about Song because it was in answer to a shareholder who asked him about Song as a possible candidate for DM. As I said in my post, he said that Song can be an occasional DM — but NOT over a whole season. He said “I am not convinced” that Song could last as DM for a league campaign, but that he could play in that role for some games.

    As for your comments re Messi — I can’t add to them. Agreed, “world class” doesn’t seem sufficient.

  10. PD

    never heard that one. He definitely said it about Kolo more than once so that’s what I thought you meant. To be fair that is 3 years ago so physically Song has really developed.I’d say if he was asked the same question now he’d say he’s convinced 🙂

    Anyway for me the question is even if Song is ok to play at centre-half is it worth the loss in midfield which results ? Against Brum yes as we don’t really have an option (appeal has officially failed but still a one-game ban only) but Barca ? No way for me. He has to stay in the middle.

  11. Mark

    Vermaelen: Appeal dismissed, one match ban remains, no increase in ban.

    CB debate: The wisdom of letting Senderos out on loan escapes me. I said so at the time, he must have called Arsenes mum a whore or something 🙁
    Although he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, against brum Big Phil sounds a lot better than Denilson if either Song or Sylvester take a knock during the match.

  12. RotorGoat

    But isn’t Senderos permanently injured? I think he’s injured now isn’t he? Not sure Everton are seeing the best of him either to be fair.

  13. PD

    If we’d kept Senderos we wouldn’t have signed Sol….

  14. Mark

    Good points. I’ve since been toying with the idea of a back 5!, eboue sagna sol tv clichy against barca, which releases song to play his now adopted sweeper role, with song and sylvestre paired for brum.
    The relevation that billy boy might be back for barca tho’ gives other dilemmas, ie is he too rusty for barcas speed?

  15. Stevie G

    I notice on the Everton website that Big Phil lists philosphy as one of his spare time interests.
    Whatever one thinks of the mans playing abilities he must have a great sense of humour !!!

  16. Saurabh Seroo

    “That’s for Nayim”… Good one.

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