By Chris Harris
Alex Song’s rise to prominence has surprised everyone, according to Arsène Wenger.
The Cameroon international has enjoyed a fine week, setting up the winning goal for Robin van Persie at Norwich on Saturday before producing a piece of wing wizardry to supply his captain against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday.
Song is best known for his defensive capabilities but the 24-year-old's moment of magic in the Champions League was a reminder that his all-round game has come on in leaps and bounds.
Five years ago this month Song's 14th first-team appearance ended ignominiously when he was taken off at half-time during a 2-1 defeat at Fulham. Some 160 outings later Song is set to face the same opponents as one of Arsenal's most important - and most improved - players.
"I thought about that Fulham game [in 2006] as well today," said Wenger at his pre-match press conference.
"It shows that players need to be given time and confidence. Unfortunately in the big clubs you cannot always do it. He is one of the players who surprised everybody. You
wouldn’t expect what he delivers at the moment.
"He looks to me also to be a creative player. He was a centre back, but him and Andre Santos are players who look like they could play in creative midfield."
Song had just turned 19 when his suffered his nadir as an Arsenal player and Wenger admits that it took time for him to put it behind him.
"He had periods when he had doubts in his mind, when people would say he was a bad buy or things like that," said the manager. "When you are a young boy that is difficult to take but he's got over that. He went through some difficult periods.
"You can talk and talk as a manager but either you play somebody or you don’t. That is the best way to show confidence in a player. In the last three years he has played a lot."Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 25 Nov 2011