Song Billong in the team

By Walter Broeckx

Alexandre Dimitri Song Billong is the full name of our defensive midfield player.

The first time he really caught my eye was two seasons ago when we played in the Carling cup against Blackburn in the season 2007-2008.  For those who can’t remember it, it was the game in which our youngsters played at Blackburn on a freezing night. It was the night when Eduardo showed what Wenger had seen in him by scoring 2 great goals.

We won 2-3 after extra time and it was in that extra time I saw the first signs of the Song we know now.

In the dying minutes of normal time Denilson got his second yellow and with 10 players they had to play the extra time. And from the moment Denilson was sent off, Song stepped up and just began to play for 2.

He played CB and he played DM at the same time. I always remembered this game for the goals from Eduardo and for the way Song played and showed what kind of player he could become. He broke up play, he intercepted, he started the counters, gave the pass to Eduardo from which he scored a great goal against Friedel. He was all over the pitch in those 30 minutes. I really was impressed with that performance.

Since then my son and I started this little joke about his full name. We always said with an Arsène Wenger accent : “Yes, I think Song Billong belong  in the team”.

So every time before kick off we had the same thing : is Song in the team? Most of that season he was not but last year he picked up and got more playing time.

After the departure of Flamini the shout for a defensive midfielder was huge around the Emirates. I, at that time, suggested on our website from the Benelux fans that maybe Song could be the tune to sing.

And yes I’m not going to say or pretend he played every game at the same high level or was master class from the first game to the last. No but any one who wasn’t wearing short sighted glasses could see that he had great potential.

Last year he, and Denilson, had their learning year in the first team. As we had to deal with an almost complete new midfield the pressure on both Song and Denilson was big and in some games it failed.

As Johan Cruijff, used to say, every bad thing has a good side and the bad thing that happened to Arsenal was the serious injury from Cesc in December against Liverpool. The good side was that from that moment on Song and Denilson had to do it on their own.

A way to teach someone to swim is just to throw him in the deep water and see if he can save himself. This happened to Song and Denilson last year and with a 19 game unbeaten run, mostly without Cesc in the team they showed their potential. They could swim if you just gave them the chance.

Much of the criticism that went out to Song last season always seemed odd to me. Couldn’t they see we just had to give him time to adjust? From this season on, the song changed it’s tune. For some he will never be good, the ones that have slaughtered him from the first moment and who are still not willing to admit how wrong they were, because he didn’t cost XX-millions and is not a buy you can brag about to other teams. Most fans now see the big player he will be for Arsenal.

The way he has made that defensive midfield place his own is just great to see. Shortly before going to the African Nations cup Wenger said on the website that they would have to find a balance in the absence of Song. When Wenger talks in those terms of a player you can be sure that he rates him very highly.

I even can’t remember him saying this when Cesc is injured. So this is the biggest compliment Wenger can make to one of his players. And rightfully.

It is only when you see the game against Everton and most fans don’t speak about the absence of Cesc you realise what has happened.  What they speak about is missing Song. And you could see what Wenger was referring to. Our midfielders looked to be caught in 2 minds. Other wise they know they can attack the opponents in the knowledge that the strong Cameroon man is sitting behind them ready to challenge every lost ball.

Now you could see them almost thinking: “don’t run in blind, always look for cover”. Everton knew that this could happen and tried to take advantage of this and nearly did. The whole team played with the handbrake on because Song is the man who can put it off and let the others fly.

So yes Arsène Wenger knew this could happen and had expressed it in advance. Buy, buy, buy could be one answer. But if you look how long it takes to make that place your own, in our attacking system,  it will take weeks if not months to play the way Song does now. So by the time a new player would be fitted in, Song would be back.

I think Denilson could be the answer, if he is 100 % fit. He’s a different type of player with other abilities and with another body. But he has the tactical awareness to play there.

I don’t know if Wenger will buy someone for the period that Song is away and I think it will be difficult to replace him. But I really would be surprised that a new signing could step in right away. Maybe time to look for someone in the squad to replace him if Denilson is out for a while ?

I know the last thing Wenger wants to do is to break up the combination of Gallas and Vermaelen but I really think that Vermaelen could be the one who has the attributes to move up for a few weeks. He is strong, can head, can pass, can give a good long ball, has vision, he knows the system we play.

Wenger has a thing with a CB going to defensive midfield. Song is one of them as was Petit. So why not Vermaelen. But then again… what would his absence mean to the whole defence ? Or could  Sol Campbell be the answer for a few weeks ?

Thank God, I’m not the manager. Just someone who takes notice of the decisions. I wouldn’t sleep at all I think.

Oh, yes, just one remark: who ever is picked to play there: let’s just get behind him and support him and the whole team. Now is the moment we need to stick together in the weeks ahead, until our “never fit enough to were the shirt player” comes back to sing us his song.

Walter Broeckx


We can smirk about Man U’s financial problems, but it is worth remembering that almost 100 years ago to the day Arsenal were also sinking fast.   You can read the story of Arsenal’s financial collapse and their rebirth in full in MAKING THE ARSENAL – click here

  • Read what The Online Gooner said about MAKING THE ARSENAL here
  • Read what Arsenal World said about the book here
  • Read what Arsenal Independent Supporters Assn said about Making the Arsenal here
  • Read what A Cultured Left Foot said about Making the Arsenal here
  • Read a review of the Untold Arsenal blog here

Right that’s enough reading.

53 Replies to “Song Billong in the team”

  1. Walter, without a doubt, Song’s consistency has been the key factor in the success of the team this far. He has given the rest of the midfielders and attack the licence to express themselves by being a dependable defensive midfielder.

    I recently wrote a profile on Arsenal’s Unsung Song that compliments what you say in this article.

    I think that it will take time for the new configuration of the midfield to settle down, but they will for sure. Denilson seems to be the preferred candidate to step in though I’m concerned about his recurring injuries. His mysterious injury against Everton really baffled me. This related article about the change of guard in Arsenal’s midfield gives a thought about how we’ll cope during Song’s absence.

    If Denilson’s injuries persists, I suppose Diaby will have to curb his attacking instincts to cover in the role, but I think we’ll lose a lot of penetration that Diaby provides in the final 3rd of the pitch.

    I don’t think Wenger will buy anyone for this position as there’s only 4 weeks left (or less) now before Song is back.

  2. re: who ever is picked to play there: let’s just get behind him and support him and the whole team. Now is the moment we need to stick together in the weeks ahead, until our “never fit enough to were the shirt player” comes back to sing us his song.

    Well said. I’ve never understood “supporters” who spend the entire time hammering their team. Get behind them or go home. We can criticize in June.

  3. Actually, Song started out as a midfielder, moved to center back a couple of seasons ago, and then back to his current role last year. I remember Wenger commenting that he wasn’t sure Song had the stamina for midfield when trying him in central defense. I admit I had my doubts about Song last year, mostly because I didn’t think he would develop as quickly as he has. I feared he might end up like Senderos, unable to recover his confidence after committing mistakes. There can be adverse consequences from asking a young player to perform at a high level before they’re quite ready for it. Some, like Song, will grow into their positions. Others, like Senderos (I feel), will have their confidence shot to pieces.

    Regarding Vermaelan, I also thought he would make a great backup as the holding midfielder. He obviously has the skill and football intelligence. Lack of depth in central defense precludes that move, however. It’s why I think Djourou’s injury may actually be almost as damaging as any that Arsenal has suffered this year. I feel Wenger’s comments about not rotating the central defensive partnership have more to do with a lack of confidence in his current backups than a desire for Willie and Tommy to have bonding time together. Wenger is taking a huge gamble on their ability to remain fit for over 50 games, if we get deep into both the Champions League and FA Cup. I have no doubt he’s fully aware of this.

    Finally, compliments on your blog. Initially, the only blogs I could find were doom and gloomers and I thought perhaps I was the only Arsenal fan out there who appreciated Wenger’s fiscal responsibility and long term vision of the club, his ability to spot and develop talent, and his champagne football. As a fan, I admit I’m sometimes frustrated that we don’t have Xavi sitting on the bench when Cesc is injured or that we haven’t figured out a way to clone RvP (minus the gene which makes him so fragile LOL) but I appreciate that this squad of players is on the cusp of something truly special, if not this year then in the very near future. Cheers!

  4. Great blog Tony and one to which I have come late. I now check it every day along with the other two in the holy trilogy for me Goonerholic (well he’s about my age) and Arseblog. i also always read Tim Stillman’s match reports on Vital Arsenal.

    So – who to play against Bolton x2. Well, I guess we could play Tommy V at DM, with either Senderos or Campbell behind him – it would also add more height to the defence. Who best to shackle the sharp elbowed Orc Kevin Davies? Then Cesc and Diaby have the freedom to join in with the front three going forward.

    I just don’t see either Denilson or Diaby at DM. As you say, whoever AW picks let’s get behind them. Six points from the next two games against the Orcs would be handy – I’m beginning to feel the hot breath of Abu Dhabi Utd on our shoulders!

  5. For me, at least for the next 4 weeks, i would like JET or Eastmond to deputise for Song. If any one of them is given a chance, he will develop faster because all around them there will be quality. Eastmond did well in the Liverpool game but tires after the 60th minute. Then JET would be introduced to complete the game. Eastmond can read the game very well, JET has the physical presence. Denilson is a good player, but lets give him more time to heal.

  6. great read. arsene’s made mistakes before, but i trust he will get the big picture right. i’m behind them fully, have been for more than 20 years, through the boring football, bad seasons and will still be here if arsenal is not a top 4 side.

    just came off arsenalinsider and i thought it was unnecessarily negative and damaging.

  7. this season song and fabregas have bn our best players and i have no doubt in my mind that he will become a better player than essien in the years to come.(thoughts???) while he is away for the ACN i would definitely play vermaelen at DM because although i think denilson is a decent player, he does not have the physicality or aggression that is required to play there. but of course then that leaves a vacant CB position to be filled(if only djourou was fit) so maybe sol campbell if he can still cut it in the prem, if not then arsene needs to gets his wallet out for a CB

  8. Thanks for the article, Mr. Broeckx.

    With my gunpowder tinted spectacles I have to admit that ALL Arsenal players usually look especially formidable in my eyes.

    I was watching one of the first few matches of this season (I’m pretty sure it was against Everton, the very first) on TV with a friend who’s not interested (or shall I say invested) in the Premier League (but who’s smarter than myself to have fairly reasonable opinion on almost everything to come his way). So he was watching quite seriously, unfamiliar with most of the Arsenal and Everton players, and when I thought he might be impressed with let’s say Fabregas (who was very impressive), he said instead: “Who’s that guy? Absolutely solid, the best player on the pitch.” He (no surprise here considering the subject of this article) was talking about Song.

    Song, like any other players, has made mistakes this season during the game, few seemed more serious than others, but overall I think it’s fair to say that he owns the DM position now. He’s been fantastic so far. As for the one(s) to replace him, some interesting ideas already mentioned here but for me it should be uhm… Err I’m confused. Will leave that to the manager.

  9. vermailen would do a good jog in midfield,sol cambell was a great and still is in mt eyes,who nows,it could end in us winning the prem

  10. Song’s journey has been a joy to behold – like an osprey leaving the nest and spreading it’s wings. This season he is hunting without inhibition and starting to understand the extent of his powers. You can see his improvement clearly not just from last season to this but throughout this season. New elements have been added to his repertoire – not least his surprising turns of pace with the ball. This is great because it panic’s defenders – to their mind they are already waiting for him to pass it to a ‘creative’ and often the space seems to open up for him as a result.

    The more he does this, the greater the indecision he creates in defenders’ minds, and the more effective he will become. We won’t see the best of him this season and already he must be in the top 3 DMs in the country.

    Going back to yesterdays comments just momentarily, thanks to everyone for your input – genuinely interesting reading. You can all give yourselves a pat on the pack (or command your other half to do it for you).

    One point regards the questioning of the illegality of LBOs: I may have overstated the actual ‘illegality’ but I do know for sure this type of leveraged buyout – where the entity you are buying is used as collateral to borrow from financial institutions – would simply not have been possible in the USA and almost all of Europe. I still think it is illegal but have no evidence or confident knowledge as to exactly why. Nonetheless the statement that it was ironic that neither the Glazer’s nor Gilette & Hicks could have done this to a team in the US was widely reported as fact in the press a few months ago.

    I didn’t make it up honest!

  11. Bill, I think he will. Must admit I’m a bit biased. 😉 I just like the guy and the way he plays.
    Like his ability to turn direction and confuse opponents.

  12. Jonny, it’s funny to see the reactions below that article you mention. 😉 I think some of those would like to forget what they wrote in those days about Hicks now…

  13. Quite so Walter, quite so!

    As we English say, be careful what you wish for – you might just get it.

    If only those who call for Wenger’s had had an ounce of foresight or patience, rather than wasting the best years when they are right under our noses.

    I mean come on! This season is great fun…

    isn’t it?

  14. WELL FINALLY IT HAD TO TAKE THE EVERTON GAME, FOR EVERY ONE, TO WRITE ABOUT SONG’S INFLUENCE – A SONG SOME OF US HAD BEEN SINGING…. I have come to realize that most of our blogs are just reactionist, we dont see the problem before it happens.
    it’s also highly surprising, that every blog has jumped on the “WE NEED TO BUY A STRIKER ” train, and not even a single article has been written on the impending DISASTER IN THE MAKING- at central defence.
    when THUNDER finally strikes in this department, i guess we’ll see an article with this title- ARSENAL VERMINATED WITHOUT THOMAS

  15. Couple of updates.

    First, Arsenal Online have stopped showing reserve games. Why???? They are now showing them a day later. Why??? I say again. No explanation on the site at all. Did they think I wouldn’t ask why?

    Second, Sol played as predicted. Well he played for the first half and was then substituted. By the end of the first half we were 2-0 up, both from JET. After Sol went WHU got two penalties, and then Frimpong scored from 20 yards out. Fran Merida played the whole game. JET got his third from 250 yards out (well, you know…) in injury time, and we won 2-4.

    Third, I tried to be clever and put some reviews of Making the Arsenal at the end of Walter’s article, only I screwed up the links. They are working now.

    And fourth, I made Song one of my two players who will come good in Highbury High, 18 months ago. So there!

    And fifth, I have just posted an article on about the financial collapse of Leeds 100 years ago, just to prove it wasn’t only Arsenal that went bust then.

    And sixth. There is no sixth point.

  16. And sixth, on the day we signed Song I wrote to the Red Action news group saying “We’ve only got one Song”. It’s fairly obvious I know, but I wrote it down on the official chanting site first.

  17. Well I must say I have been singing in high praise for Song for a while know. I even was thinking when writing this down that some of you might say: Oh no, there he is again. 😉 I think I can say that on other sites I defended Song for a while.

    I wish to point out that I was worried about Song leaving us for a month for a while. I was delighted that the Kameroon federation allowed him to stay a week longer with us. I would have even been for more delighted if the Kameroon coach would have left him in London… but then again if I would be coaching Kameroon he would be in the heart of my squad.

    And the thing that Wenger spoke about the absence of Song in advance showes just how highly Wenger rates him.

    And if I can just ad a little song for him on the tune that Neil Diamond song:

    Song sung Song
    everybody knows him
    song sung Song
    everybody loves him

    Well nog shure about the everybody in Gooner land but over here … yeah should be allright.

    And Jonny this season is great fun indeed. Even with all the injury misery we had still in the middle of it. Just great

  18. Tony upon the not broadcasting our reserves games live on arsenaltvonline I must say I’m rather shocked with that decision. The joy I had on watching those youngsters playing was worth every penny of the money.
    And when I look at the the text report of the game I really think we have missed a great game of football tonight.

    So goodbye to me watching on my laptop to the future that lies in front of us. Really p*ssed of by this decision must say…

  19. “Of course all eyes are on Sol Campbell tonight. The latest news we have on the defender is that he is playing with a Reserve League registration tonight and talks are ongoing with Sol with a view to a permanent move back to Arsenal Football Club.” It says on the text report.

    So if you look back at my article… and the solution I gave… Well sometimes people have called me Walter Wenger in our fanclub 😉 🙂

    Well maybe tomorrow morning I will wake up in a different world and look stupid with the things I told today.

  20. I always wake up in a different world.

    Sometimes I travel round it so fast I fall off the edge and have to wait for it to come round again so I can jump back on.

  21. Do we have to take a bow now in front of our computer when entering the site, Tony ? ooooops Sir Tony that is.

  22. On paper, Verminator should be awesome in Song’s place; with Sol pairing with Gallas. However, Sol cannot be trusted to play 90mins. One thing I’ve come to trust Wenger for is in his ability to improvise; however, the improvisions usually take awhile to gell.

    Before any of his solutions may gell, Song will be on his way back.

    I will rather pray we get by through grit and blood on each permutation Wenger put forward and that Song returns uninjured and as driven as he has left the team; and that he meets us still in a strong challenging position for the 3 cups.

  23. The Verm into the Song role theory has merit on paper, but Wenger said, when asked by a reporter who would play LB some months ago with Clichy, Gibbs and Traore out “either Eboue or Silvestre. Thomas can play LB, but then I’d fix one problem and make another in central defence”.

    Given our situation in central defence (even with Campbell onboard, he’s only cover) he is unlikely to do this. We need that strong centre, and Vermaelen at CB > him at DM. A midfielder will step up to the plate, though looking at the fixtures, Cameroon are likely to be at the quarters, a few days before the United game if my memory serves. Which would be great for us, though he’ll need a jetlag wondercure…!

    Good read Walter, always a pleasure to see you’ve written. Forgive my ignorance, but is your native tongue French, Dutch or Flemish?

  24. Walter — nice and thoughtful piece. As usual, a pleasure to read.

    I liked this comment the best: “Buy, buy, buy could be one answer. But if you look how long it takes to make that place your own, in our attacking system, it will take weeks if not months to play the way Song does now. So by the time a new player would be fitted in, Song would be back.”

    Very, very true, and always ignored among those clamoring for new signings.

    It seems to me that it’s usually the system that makes the players, and not the other way around.

  25. Song has turned into a very important player and I hope we have good enough backup for him. I love his adventerous runs in attack and he is doing a very good job defensively as well. Just a completely transformed player!

    Nice blog!

  26. Excellent article Walter, beat the hell out of the Song tribute I tried to write a little while ago.

    I’ve also been a Song fan for a decent amount of time and as a result feel quite proud that he has come good. I wrote an article on my blog in the very early part of last season that I thought we needed to put him alongside Cesc in defensive midfield instead of Denilson because he was the one midfielder with a defence-first attitude. That he has developed his control and passing game so well has been a most welcome bonus.

    Keep it up there.

  27. off-topic, but this is an example of blatant journalistic plagiarism cut-and-pasted from The Telegraph in an article “by Telegraph staff”:

    “Arsene Wenger [] has been an inspiration. He has watched me closely after letting me train at Arsenal for nearly two months now. He’s not stupid – he wouldn’t have taken me back if he didn’t like what he has seen, and I have worked and worked. ”

    Stupid idiots! Copying from ESPN of all places??? At least remove the hyperlinks!!!

  28. Phil about the native tongue and as we are a strange country this is also not so easy to explain. In fact nothing is easy in Belgium.

    The official language we speak in Flanders = Dutch. But if you could hear me speak and compare it with someone from lets say Amsterdam you would hear a difference in the pronunciation. But if we both speak formal Dutch (= Oxford English?) we have absolutly no problem in understanding each other. The biggest difference is we speak with a soft “G” and they pronounce it harder.
    But in our daily life we speak some kind of regional Dutch. As I live in the county (provincie in Dutch) Antwerpen I speak “Antwerps”. In Limburg they speak Limburgs and that is a kind of language between Dutch and German. And in the county’s East and West Flanders they speek their own dialect. So sometimes one could say that the Flemish language does not exist in itself but it is used to refer to the 3 or 4 dialects we speak in every day life.

    Must say that I am a little bit priviledged in our dialects because I was born in Limburg (and have many relatives still there), a part of my family lives near Ghent and so I can understand the local dialect there as well. My wife and her parents are from West Flanders and I had also some relatives living there so that dialect is also no problem for me mostly. So I can understand most dialects we have in Flanders, but must admit that I can not speak them like a native can.

    This is now going way off topic but now I began to wonder how in fact our language sounds to people who can not understand it ? Does it sounds like German (a bit agressive one says) or Italian (very loud and busy) of Spanish (busy and a bit more agressive)?

    Tony you heard us speak, that was the Dutch with a strong Antwerp accent in fact, what was your impression ? Or did it not only was just Chinese but sounded like it too ?

  29. We’ve only got one Song, we’ve only got one Song, we’ve only got….Song-o

    We’ve only got one Song, we’ve only got one Song, we’ve only got….Song-o

  30. Walter (and anyone else interested in languages) to me the speech between yourself and your family sounded Dutch – I don’t think I would be able to tell any regional variation. I guess I can only tell because I have been to Holland and Belgium a number of times and for a while went out with a Dutch woman.

    What I started to wonder when reading your answer above was just how big the variations are between the regions. The nearest town to where I live is Corby, which although in the rural East Midlands is in fact a town with a large number of Scots in. This is because of the steel works that was set up in the town in the 1930s, with the workers coming from Glasgow. (The steel works closed in the 70s).

    In my village the neighbours two doors down are Scottish, and rampant Celtic supporters. Although we can chat quite readily, when we first met about 6 years ago I often found I couldn’t follow what they were saying to me – and it still happens sometimes.

    The other day I was leaving my house and Pat asked me if I was off to get my messages. I had no idea what it meant, and eventually I was given the translation: “was I going shopping?”

    So with the Glaswegians it is a mix of different words, different sentence construction and of course an utterly different accent.

    Mind you, I watched “The Sting” on TV over Xmas, and found half of the conversation in that incomprehensible.

  31. Can I say that I saw something similar in Diaby last year. He was surrounded by 6 defenders but was still holding the ball and waiting for others to come in their penalty area.

    I don’t remember which match but he has been my favourite ever since. I am just waiting for him to prove me right.

  32. Tony the difference between someone from Maaseik (my town of birth in Limburg and on the border with Holland) and my wife who was born in Ypres is in fact very big.
    If they both would speak their own dialect, they wouldn’t understand each other. Well I can as mentionned above but they really have a complete different sound and way of speaking.
    Like I said, we really are a strange country. Well I think many of us would or could say that I think ?

  33. Patients with Wengers youth. We as fans could always see the potential of Song, but many forgot he was also very young. Song is still only 22 years old and still quite young and coming into his own. He will be miles better than Essien in the next three years. Song will become one of the top four player from Africa in next year world Cup.

    Arsene knows best, he always proves he has the vision to look years into the future of our beloved Arsenal and his players.

  34. Greetings,

    I’m an Arsenal fan from the Philippines, and let me just start off by saying that i’ve been following this blog for quite some time now, and in my opinion, Untold Arsenal is (by far) the best Arsenal blog I have come across. Today’s article was no exception. Great stuff Walter! Other blogs (i won’t mention any names) have all written articles on the same topic, i.e., the importance of Song/the DM position, but unlike your article (which paid great respect to Lord Wenger and his system), and offered a plethora of alternatives, all they can seem to suggest is that if we don’t buy a replacement, we are doomed.

    In my oppinion, i think the combination of Denilson and Fabregas can do the job/hold down the fort until Song comes back (I pray everyday that he does so uninjured). Diaby, in my opinion, is just one of those players that needs to be in a more advanced (in terms of how high up the pitch he is, that is) role. In my opinion, we don’t need to buy anyone; we just need to invest more money on multi-vitamins as our boys are awfully sickly.

    I’m a big fan of Song, but i really don’t think that he can be compared to Essien, cause although they play the same position, i don’t think they are the same type of player – Essien, in my opinion, is more well rounded than Song, i.e., he provides more in attack than Song does.

    Walter – if you think your country is strange, you have to visit mine, we have over 90 different dialects which sound nothing alike. We are devoutly Catholic, yet are probably one of the most corrupt countries in Asia. Plus, ESPN/Star Sports over here isn’t very Arsenal friendly (they hardly show Arsenal games). So I end up either streaming it online (which is a big pain in the butt), or going to an English expat bar (where they show most of the matches).

    Tony – Is ordering online the only way I can get a copy of “Making the Arsenal”? All those links you put after the articles make me mighty curious. Haha!

  35. At the moment the only quick ways for getting the book are by ordering on line, either via the publishers shop or via

    There actually are alternatives if you have a fax machine – you can fax your order with credit card details to +44 1536 399 012 which is the publisher, or indeed you could phone the publisher on +44 1 536 399 000 and place an order with a credit card. Finally you could write to the publisher with your credit card details.

    In the UK you can go into any bookshop and order the book but they will simply order it from the publisher, so it just takes longer to get it.


  36. Rafael, you have a valid point that Song and Essien are different persons and thus different players and so it is difficult to compare them. Maybe for the moment Essien is in an attacking sense more valuable compared to Song, but I really think that Song wil only improve over the next years and that he will be showing us that he can also be valuable in the attack.

    Amazing stuff upon the dialects over there. How do you people communicate with each other ? In English ? Or is there some kind of “Philipines language” ?

  37. Am I the only one to see knighthood awarded to Tony or everyone else is just ignoring it.

    Congrats Tony.

  38. Walter, I have no doubt that Song will improve overall in the years to come, I expect him to become one of the best DM’s in the world (I think he already is one of the best in England, second only to Essien) but did you see Essien’s goal against Barcelona in the 2nd Leg of the Champion’s League Semi-Final last year (it was his weak foot too, if i’m not mistaken)? Goal-scoring prowess (I’m not sure if this is the correct term) is just something that (in my opinion) you can’t teach a player, and it’s something that Essien has and that Song doesn’t (which is fine by me, cause we have about a million other players with goal-scoring prowess coming out of their ears.)

    About the dialects, our national language is actually Filipino, which is based on one of our major dialects “Tagalog” which, loosely translated into English, means “by the river”. Well, everyone in the Philippines can speak pretty good English (by Asian standards of course), although i think Tony and other Englishmen would consider it more of American. We do, however, when speaking informally to one another have the tendency to blend the two languages together to form an abomination called “Taglish”. Like i said, we are a country of weirdo’s. Does everyone speak English as well as you do in Belgium?

  39. Well if there is one thing that we can be proud of in Flanders it is our education system. Not saying it is without faults, but our compulsory education is untill the age of 18 and we pay a lot of attention to languages in that system. It also depends a bit from school to school and I was lucky to go to a school which had high standards for language education.
    Now I must admit that it also is a matter of training yourself in the other languages. My wife, who is smarter than me on most things (dont let her know), has never had the practice in English as I have and her knowledge of English has mostly dissapeared. She could still help herself but if we go to England together she will let me do the talking.. and that is something extraordinary for most women. 😉

  40. Abishek I asked him if we must bow now before entering the site but he didn’t reply to this. 🙂

  41. Hi Tony
    Sorry to go off topic here, but I want to draw your attention to the advert on this site for improving the colour of your teeth. After reading Untold last night I noticed this advert and clicked on it to have a look what it was about. It links to an article whereby a nice lady teacher talks about researching the web for teeth whitening products and ordering two free trials of completely separate products that did the trick when used together. There are further links to get each of these products on the same free trial terms. However, alarm bells rang when these links lead to free trials for yet two more different teeth whitening products, so I did a bit of googling and have seen that this is a very unpleasant scam in many ways and thousands have been ripped off by these companies who keep getting billed hundreds of pounds after the free trial period is up. This link shows some of the issues people have had “”.
    As more than 100,000 people regularly visit this site each month for your great blogs, I feel compelled you at least let you know what this is all about and warn people from falling for this.

    Back on topic, great article Walter and I am fully behind the “Alex Song for player of the season award” campaign. Considering his age as well, I am really looking forward to seeing him get better and better in the coming few years. He will be the best holding midfielder in the world by the time he is 25, especially if he keeps adding goals to his game.

  42. Walter, just to clarify… is Flanders a province in Belgium, or is it another name for Belgium? The education system here is underrated, as most of the private schools (set up by religious orders) are pretty good, and they also pay good attention to other languages. I agree with you that language is a matter of training yourself, “use it or lose it” we used to say. And the latter is exactly what happened with the Latin and Spanish i learned in High-School (almost completely forgotten now). The public education system here however is appallingly horrible and is only meant for the extremely impoverished.

    Walter, I am also curious as to how you got about to supporting the Arsenal, as supposed to supporting one of the many local and talented belgian clubs? or do you also support one of them alongside Arsenal? I’m an envious that your country has a developed football league. The Football scene here in the Philippines is severely undeveloped, due to a corrupt F.A.

  43. I will look into the advert as mentioned. Adverts of this type are supplied by an agency, and I have no direct involvement with what goes up, so it will take a while to unravel, but thanks for the warning.

    And just to clarify the “Sir” bit is not all it might seem – I was awarded a knighthood by a couple of people who wrote to the site. Her Majesty was not directly involved in this award

  44. Rafael, How to explain Belgium in a few words… is impossible. But I will give it a go.
    Belgium is a country and it has two communities: Flanders (Vlaanderen in Dutch) and Wallonië. In Flanders we speek Dutch (60% of the population from Belgium) and the other 38% speak French.
    The two communities have their own parliament and many things are done by those governements. We then have another governement for Belgium which takes care for other things and where the Flemish and the peoeple from Wallonië are trying to do things together. With little succes lately but that is my personal opinion. If you have paid attention you will have noticed that we have 2 % of people who cannot speak but in fact they can speak but they speak German. But I leave them out as it is complicated enough and yes they do have their own parliament and partially governement. We sure have the highest rate politicians/people of the world I think. 🙁

    I’m a fan since 1979 when we came to London with our school for a few days and we went to Highbury to see Arsenal play and lose to Wolverhampton Wanderers. The days of Liam Brady….
    And I do support a local team frome where I used to live as a kid but it is just checking the result once a week and maybe once a year going to a game when I really have nothing else to do.

  45. I don’t quite agree with the comparisons between Song and Essien, Rafael. Though I accept that Essien attempts more shots on target than Song, but I do believe that is because Song is sticking more to the script given to him than Essien (due mainly to his developmental progression). If you notice his adapting style now, he is playing with more freedom than before. The more mature he gets, the more freedom you’ll notice in his play.

    At the moment, even though he is still younger: (1) Song has by far better Close footbal Control than Essien. (2) He has far quicker feet, even for his deceptively languid-like posture, which enables him to require less brute strength. (3) He has a better technique of intercepting and tackling which makes him commit less fouls than Essien.

    Granted that last season, Essien had more strength and endurance than Song, but that is no longer the case. Last season, even Denilson had more staying power (endurance) than Song; but right now I doubt that Denilson can out last Song if they were both thrown under water. Such is the phenomenal growth and development that has marked our Song.

    So, the only 2 things that Essien has more than Song are Shooting freedom and Experience. Why should I agree that he is better all round? If Song does not surpass him completely before the end of this season, watch him go next season.

  46. Did anyone watch Cameroon’s defeat to Gabon yesterday evening? I saw the full match and was even more impressed with Song. Yesterday I saw a glimpse of Cesc in Song.. He was not just the defensive midfielder that everyone thinks he is.. He also created the most chances with few chips(Cesc style) over the opposition defense. If only Eto’o and other had taken their chances, Cameroon would have won by atleast a 2 goal margin..

  47. One can hope that Cameroon goes out after the first round. So lets hope he comes back real soon.

  48. I’ve been Songs biggest fan and have spent many months over the summer at LeGrove singing his praises andtelling them to watch out forhiom this season. Well mostly to those too stoooopid to see how he had already improved last season.

    I also remember that Blackburn game very well…it was a great interception that led to the great pass for Eddie’s winner !!

    Denilson also had a very good game that night.

    Walter, Untold Arsenal really sets the standard for Arsenal blogging, all credit to you Sir Tony.

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