Alex Song has been struggling for form of late and his absence from the side against Chelsea would have been a bit of a blow to the former Cameroon international.
Although the midfielder possesses undoubted quality, he has not been performing in recent matches for West Ham and his dip in form has coincided with West Ham’s recent run of poor results.
At times this season, Song has been the influential midfield talisman that dictated games on his own from his deep-lying midfield position. His ability on the ball has been a sight to behold at times in this campaign and his skill in unlocking defences with perfectly weighted through balls has been another positive factor.
When Song is at his best, he has the ability to walk into any top Premier League side and his presence in the West Ham midfield is one of the reasons as to why West Ham are in the top half of the table rather than battling relegation.
However, in recent matches, Song has looked a shadow of his earlier-season self. Against the likes of Tottenham and Crystal Palace, he sometimes looked lethargic on the ball and is wasteful in possession. He also made a habit of losing the ball in vital areas due to the fact that he has often been hesitant in possession. His dip in form could be a result of tiredness due to too much playing time.
Song did not feature on a regular basis for Barcelona and he has been used extensively by Sam Allardyce this season, so his sudden return to regular first-team action could finally be catching up with him.
The fact that he chose to stay at Chadwell Heath and work on his condition rather than join the rest of the squad out in Dubai this week is good news for the club. It shows that Song realises he has not been performing to the standard that is expected of him and he wants to put it right.
Allardyce needs little encouragement to play Nolan instead of Song, especially after the captain played so well against Chelsea. Despite this, Song will want to return to his best form and cement his place back in the starting eleven in order to help West Ham finish the Premier League season on a high, rather than falling into mid-table mediocrity after a season that promised so much more.
Song has not performed in recent weeks as Kevin Nolan’s performance against Chelsea highlights the midfielder’s poor run of form in the matches against Tottenham and Crystal Palace respectively.
Some fans have expressed their anger at the midfielder’s drop in form and have gone as far to suggest that signing Song on a permanent deal in the summer is a waste of time. This is quite an unfair judgement and one they may regret.
Yes, Song has not been performing recently but he has been brilliant at times this season and he is still a quality player. There is nobody in the current West Ham midfield that can match Song when he is at his best. If he puts in a good shift against Arsenal, fans will be quick to sing his praises once again.
Ultimately, Song will only change the minds of some fans if he improves his performances on the pitch and he has more than enough ability to turn this poor spell around. The rest against Chelsea and the extensive training this week should mean that Song is excellently prepared for the trip to Arsenal.
If he returns to the top of his game at the Emirates, it could result in the Hammers producing a display similar to the excellent one against Chelsea.
Fans should be patient with Song as he has been fantastic at points this season. His recent performances have not been encouraging but he will know that he needs to put that right.
If he finishes the season in the same way he started it, West Ham should do all they can to keep hold of Alex Song in the summer.