As Arsenal continue to rotate through different permutations of midfield trios this year, one trend has become increasingly apparent. This is the tendency for the two deeper midfielders to get forward towards the penalty area while the other stays back, a process which has resulted in players such as Alex Song popping up in threatening positions far more than he had in the past.
The Arsenal Column has written a piece talking about Song's tendency to go forward as of late, particularly in regards to the West Ham match. He notes that Song's ability to win the ball higher up the pitch also helps Arsenal win the ball back in more advanced positions.
Similarly, The Backwards Gooner has analyzed (with a great video) the Denilson-Song-Cesc Fabregas trio. He argues that Song offers a surprising amount of threat around the area, more than Denilson does, and sees Song's role going forward as being more of a classic box-to-box midfielder. It is clear, too, that the steady play of the Brazilian under pressure, his ability to pass out of tricky situations and read play, make him the perfect complement as a deeper holding midfielder, while either one of Song or Fabregas can track back to help out as necessary.
Arsène Wenger has noted that Song's increased motivation in training has helped out his stamina considerably, allowing him to shuttle back and forth between a holding role and the attack more effectively than was once the case: "Before, he needed a breather when we won the ball, so when we went forward he was a bit too late [to join the attack]. Now, since he has more stamina capacity, when we win the ball he is on the move straight away and, when his timing is good, he arrives at the right moment in the box," the manager said.
It is clear that this particular trio can be very effective if all are playing to their strengths (and especially if Fabregas isn't hampered by a hamstring problem and shackled by a hard-working Scott Parker). In the type of game where a team defends with ten behind the ball and looks to press and frustrate Arsenal's midfield, the ability of Song, or occasionally Denilson (think of his goal against Everton to open last season), to pop up in attack at the crucial moment from an unmarked position can be a huge factor.
While Song, Denilson, and Cesc are learning to operate well together, one question that does arise is what happens when Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Samir Nasri, or Tomas Rosicky, or even Craig Eastmond or Henri Lansbury, slot in? They each have slightly different capabilities and strengths in terms of passing and technique.