AFTER A slow start to his professional career, 24 year-old Alexandre Dimitri Song Billong - better known as Alex Song, is enjoying his most dynamic season yet.
The Cameroonian international and cousin of former Liverpool and West Ham centre back Rigobert Song first arrived at the north London club in 2005, initially on a season-long loan from French club SC Bastia, which was soon made permanent after a £1m fee was agreed for his services.
In 2006, the decision was made for Song to join Charlton Athletic on a season-long loan, where he was able to improve both physically and mentally, gaining much needed experience in adapting to the fast pace of the English game.
Song established himself as a genuine utility player during his breakthrough season of 2008-09, demonstrating his versatility in a variety of positions. It was the 'anchorman' role that allowed Song to flourish on the pitch - showcasing solid tackling, exceptional awareness and precise passes capable of splitting even the most disciplined back four.
One of 28 siblings, Song admits that family plays a pivotal role in his development as a character.
“Every time I step on to the pitch at the Emirates, I just look up to where my wife and my son are sitting, wave to him and I do everything for my family,” said Song.
“I want to give them all of my love because they make me strong”.
COMPOSED: The Cameroon international in action
Identifiable by his colourful hairstyle, tranquil personality and composed playing style, Song's understanding of the game has been aided by midfield partnerships with Jack Wilshere and an impressive relationship with prolific striker van Persie.
Operating as a unit is a key feature in the tactical makeup of the Arsenal team. Song has succeeded in linking defense with attack by sitting in front of the centre backs and initiating counter attacks by exploiting the width of the pitch and utilising the explosive pace of players such as Theo Walcott or Gervinho.
Passing has been an integral part of Song's game. Being able to open up defenses in traditional Arsenal guile and adhering to their reluctancy to hoof the ball has established Song as a favourite amongst fans.
A comely chip to captain Robin van Persie in the 125th Anniversary game against Everton earlier this season was the key needed to unlock a stubborn defense and set up the only goal of the game in a climactic 1-0 victory.
Song continues to improve steadily and is already on track for his finest season in an Arsenal shirt to date. With seven* assists in the Premier League alone, Song has surpassed his record for previous seasons combined and looks set to continue this good run of form.
Strengths: Passing, Awareness, Versatile, Vision.
Weakness: Discipline, Injury.