Robin van Persie has hailed the way his Arsenal colleagues are taking on more responsibility in the wake of this summer’s departures.
The Dutch international has obviously been pinpointed as a focal point for much praise this term having scored a bazillion goals, but it is the influence of the likes of Alex Song, Mikel Arteta and Thomas Vermaelen which comforts the striker.
Speaking to the official matchday programme ahead of Saturday’s draw with Fulham, the club captain paid particular homage to Cameroon enforcer Song after his dribble-tastic assist against Borussia Dortmund.
“What I like at the moment is that you can see people stepping up a level, and growing in confidence,” he said. “I can really notice that around the team. Alex Song for example. He has been a great player for a few years now, but I do feel that when you see a defensive midfielder make an action like that against Dortmund, to break a game like that, then he is something special.”
“We also have Thomas Vermaelen back, and Mikel Arteta is playing really well too. He’s so intelligent. He knows when to go forward, he knows when to sit back. Sometimes Alex makes a run forward but because of his experience Mikel can read the game perfectly, knows when to go forward, when to help his team out, or when to play for others.”
Van Persie isn’t the only one, who has had his head turned by Alex Song’s marked improvement. The boss has also been impressed by the manner in which the 24-year-old has taken games by the scruff of the neck.
“A great assist from Alex Song set us on our way against Dortmund. He is a defensive midfielder who can also be very creative offensively, and showed that again on Wednesday.
“You want your players to show that kind of quality at a moment where it is needed, and we required something like that on the night. What I like is that he took the risk, took the gamble, and the quality of his final ball was exceptional. He did something that is not only tricky and fantastic to watch, but also efficient.
“You might need a magnet to keep him back sometimes, but overall in the second half he was tremendous defensively too – in the challenges he was absolutely fantastic. I believe that an intelligent player is one who uses his assets in an intelligent way. His asset is in the duels, but he can add to his game from time to time as well. We know that he is a fantastic player.”