Arsène Wenger believes the criticism of Alex Song this week has been too harsh.

The 19-year-old was drafted into central midfield for the game at Fulham in midweek. It was a tall order. He was caught out by Luis Boa Morte for the West London side's second goal and was substituted at half time as Arsenal tried in vain to chase the game. Song's performance drew criticism from many quarters but his manager is sympathetic.

"I think you are being too harsh on him," said Wenger at his pre-match press conference on Friday. "When he played at Everton recently he was the man of the match and suddenly you'd think he 'can't pass the ball' when you listen to some opinions.

"I think first of all you have to be measured in what you say. Maybe not with me because my skin is thick enough to take it but when you are talking about a 19-year-old.

"He is a talented player. We see him every day in training and if you did you will change your mind about him."

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1 Dec 2006