Faith in Djourou and Song Pays Arsenal’s Dues

Johan Djourou has been passed fit for the visit of United slaying Wolves tomorrow. This makes me happy; even more happy than the good chance of Alex Song also lining up for The Arsenal on Saturday.

I rate both players highly; though most Gooners would say that Song is more important to the team. The difference between the way both players have emerged in the team for me is the fact that I have always rated Djourou since the first time I saw him make his Premier League debut at Highbury five years ago. OK, that was a 7-0 rout of Middlesbrough and he had little to do; but close up, I could just see the quality, the calmness in dealing with trouble as well as in possession. Strong in the air, quick, good passer (stemming from his upbringing as a midfielder), good reader of the game – Djourou had all the required attributes of the modern centre half.

With Song, I felt that he would go one of two ways. His first appearances in the first team were laced with clumsy passes; a rashness in the tackle. He looked out of his depth. My opinion then changed at Anfield; most famous for four Julio Baptista goals (he should’ve had at least five as he missed a pen) and a 6-3 drubbing of Liverpool.

Baptista got the plaudits for that match, but Song stood out. A real mature performance – something we’ve become accustomed to seeing over the past two seasons – made all the more remarkable given that his last first team game was another poor performance in a 1-0 defeat to Fulham where he stunk the Cottage out and was hauled off at half-time.

To see both players develop (although we’ve seen much more of Song due to Djourou’s bad luck with injuries) has been a joy and another example of Arsene Wenger and Arsenal’s youth policy and hard work put in by Liam Brady and his Academy staff.