Song - I have matured
Alex Song believes that he is finally starting to show his best form after six years at the club
Last Updated: 31/10/10 7:18pm
Alex Song believes that he is finally starting to show his best form after six years at the club.
Song scored the only goal of the game as Arsenal edged past West Ham on Sunday to underline his progress since he arrived as a callow 17-year-old from Bastia in 2005.
His excellent form of late has reinforced the belief he is one of Arsenal's top performers this season.
"When I came to Arsenal, I was just 17 years old. Today I am 23. I am more mature now and can learn every single day," he said.
"Now I am more confident, which is maybe why I try to push myself. We have a lot of players who have been here seven or eight years now.
"When you play in one team for a long time, with the best manager in the world, you want to give your best every day, that is why you can see it when we are on the pitch - we showed very good character against West Ham and never gave up, which is very good for the future for us."
Song is doubtful for the UEFA Champions League game against Shakhtar Donetsk after picking up a shin injury against West Ham.
Song began life at the Gunners as a centre-back but following a disappointing performance against Fulham in 2006, he was loaned out to Charlton.
But as Song recalls his dark days, he always maintained faith in his ability.
"I never gave up. It was a bad time for me, but I try to learn," he added.
"When you make mistakes, you have to learn to be ready for the next step. That is why I push myself.
"My family help me a lot. I have to say thank you to my wife and children because that is where my inspiration comes from."
Song feels that Arsene Wenger's latest crop of stars, who have reached the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup, have the potential to be a special bunch.
"We know this is a very important season for us which is why everyone gives their best to be happy at the end of the season," he continued.
"We just need to give everything to give our best and see what happens in the end."
The Cameroon international has developed into being a key man at the club and Wenger believes his improved levels of fitness have been central to his excellent form.
"He sees there is a big competition in midfield and that helps, because nobody is guaranteed a place," said Wenger.
"Song has improved his engine. Before he was less mobile, now he does not need a breather when he goes and comes back, that has added something to his quality.
"Since he has more stamina capacity, when we win the ball, he is on the move straight away and, when his timing is, he arrives at the right moment in the box."
Arsenal have not won the league since they went through an entire season undefeated in the 2003/2004 campaign.
But Wenger believes they have a chance to change that if they can stay within touching distance of Chelsea.
"Chelsea is the super-favourite and everybody else is chasing," explained Wenger.
"Our advantage is that we have played already at Chelsea, at Manchester City, at Liverpool and we will go to Manchester United in December.
"For us it is very important to keep in touch with the top teams knowing we will play them at home in the second part of the season, with the absolute need to beat them here.
"If we can keep in touch until the second part of the season, we have a chance."