Song wants Arsenal to keep moving
Alex Song feels Arsenal are finally starting to gel into an effective unit - and sent a warning to their rivals that the squad will continue to push themselves forwards. The Gunners beat Borussia Dortmund 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium yesterday night with a brace from in-form captain Robin van Persie to become the first English side to secure qualification for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League at the top of Group F with a match to spare.
Arsene Wenger's men, fired by the 17 goals of their skipper, are a team transformed from earlier in the season, now having won eight from nine games in all competitions, with the 8-2 humiliation at Old Trafford now a distant memory. Song - whose powerful run and cross set up Van Persie's opener at the start of the second half - firmly believes there is more to come.
"Maybe some people are very hard on Arsenal, I don't know why," the Cameroonian international said. "We want to show everyone is wrong about us and we did very well - but we don't want to stay in the same situation now and just say, 'everything is working and we will just keep on like this'. We want to push ourselves to try to look forward."
Song, 24, added: "We started really badly, but it is not easy when you have new players - you need to give them time. Everyone tries to help each other and we have very good cohesion, which is important. When you play for a team like Arsenal you just want to finish all the time at the top of the league. That is what we try to do. We know we have the Carling Cup [quarter-final against Manchester City] coming soon and we just have to try to win every single game."
Arsenal can now head to Athens for next month's final group game against Olympiacos safe in the knowledge they will be among the seeds for the last 16, regardless of the result. Given how costly failure to do the same last season proved when being drawn against Barcelona, Song revealed: "We didn't want to make the same mistakes as last time. We needed to finish the job because we know to finish top of the group is very important."
The complexities of Arsenal's potential opponents in the last 16 are still to be played out, while none of their Premier League rivals Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea are yet assured of progression.
However, topping the group does at least provide Wenger with the comfort Arsenal cannot now face Barcelona again. Elsewhere, Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich are also through as group winners, along with traditional European heavyweights Inter Milan and Real Madrid. Despite eventually being outmanoeuvred by Lionel Messi in the Nou Camp last season, the Gunners produced a memorable display to beat the Spaniards in north London.
Midfielder Aaron Ramsey sees no reason why Arsenal should not be confident of coming through against any opposition with the form they are in. "At home we have done really well and this is the place we want to make our fortress," Ramsey said. "Hopefully that can be the case and I am sure we have given ourselves a good opportunity now." Welsh international captain Ramsey, 20, added: "We feel like we can beat anybody at the moment with the form we are in, so hopefully we get a good team and we can progress to the next round."