Friday, November 27, 2009

Arsenal-Chelsea: a Songful preview

Some say it would be a clash between brute strength and silky football when the London giants meet. In what should be one of the biggest matches in Europe this weekend, Arsenal would have to win to have any good chance at the title.

So far, Arsene Wenger has done an appreciable job of serving his exotic cuisine of attractive passing attacking football. Perhaps one player who has suprised many with the speed of his development is Alex Song Billong.

Many pro-Arsenal blogs like Arseblog, Arsenalist, Arsenalmania and Goonernet have, in recent weeks, portrayed the young Cameroonian as quite indispensable to any silverware ambitions the club may have this season. For me, that is not far-fetched at all.

I was standing behind the goalposts when Ghana lost to Cameroon in the semi of the Ghana 2008 Afcon. Alex Song was mammoth in that game as he'd been throughout the competition. Never mind his size as compared to Ghana's Junior Agogo, Michael Essien or even the bullish Sulley Muntari, the lad played like he had been doing that all his life.

Suprisingly, that Afcon was his first major international tournament. In the end he was so good he was named in the competition's Best XI.

Against Chelsea, I expect Arsene to play him especially after his Man of the Match performances against Sunderland and Standard Liege. The middle of the field was his, that much was clear. And maybe he can even get that rare goal - now that'd be special.

At 22 years and at this rate, the little man from Douala may yet be one of the best central/defensive midfielders in Europe in a season or two.

Ancelloti is likely to employ a rugged midfield - like he usually does - and apart from Song, I'm not seeing who the Arse would employ to match the strength of the blues. Gallas left the last game with eyes like a pufferfish and if he would play, Song may get some respite. Otherwise it's gonna be a tiring day for the man who was loaned to Arsenal on a £1 million from Bastia.

Personally, I'd like an Arsenal win and here's why: in an ideal world Wenger's vaunted scouting and youth development policy must be seen to be beating over Abramovich's ridiculous 'buy-and-win' way of ruling Chelsea since he arrived in 2002-3. Sadly, our planet is anything but ideal.

That said, I cant wait for the game, can you? Especially to see how Eboue fares, too.

Till later.