The Big Interview - Alex Song

Alex Song is feeling fit, in form and ready for Saturday's return to Arsenal
Alex Song says his peak fitness and form are returning ahead of his return to former club Arsenal on Saturday.

The midfielder was given permission by manager Sam Allardyce to remain at Chadwell Heath to train with West Ham United’s Development Squad while the first team were away in Dubai.

Having worked hard alongside young professionals and scholars for four days, the No30 is feeling back to his best and is ready to tackle the club he represented for six seasons between 2006 and 2012.

West Ham TV caught up with the 27-year-old ahead of his return to the Emirates.

Alex, you stayed behind to work on your fitness, so can you please talk us through your last few days?

AS: “Yes, I think it was really good for me to work on my fitness and stay here to work. I feel I needed to work because I didn’t have a proper pre-season.

“When I was playing, I was feeling a little tightness in my muscles and that’s why I asked the Gaffer if I could stay here and work a little bit harder before they come back.

“I need to come back at the top of my form. I have trained hard, so I’m very happy because the way we have trained here with the Under-21s, they are doing very well. I have worked very hard to come back to my level.

“It’s good news that my fitness statistics are improving. That’s why I said to the Gaffer to stay here to work hard. Now I’m in the good way and I’ve improved a lot over the last few days.

“I want to come back to my fitness, because the gap was a little bit longer between matches. I was very happy when the staff said I am coming back in a good way, because that’s the way I want to be. That’s very good news for me and for the Club as well.”

Presumably, with your best fitness comes your best form?

AS: “Of course, of course. I know what I can do when I am 100 per cent, but sometimes in football it is like this. I know I didn’t do the pre-season, so that’s why it’s a little bit hard today, because I didn’t do it properly last summer.

“That’s why I need to work extra hard and do some extra work to come back at the top level. With the way I’m going now, I’m very happy. I want to show the team what I can do.”
You and Nene both trained with the Development Squad and your presence seemed to lift the intensity of the session.

AS: “Yes, he is a great player. We know Nene and he has played at a high level. For him to come here and train with the Under-21s is good for them to learn from as well.

“It is very important, because when I was this age I was listening every time to the players with experience, because at Arsenal I had people like Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Robert Pires and I learned a lot.

“Today, they have the opportunity to have senior players with them and they can learn from us and it’s good. It was a very good training session, very hard and with very good intensity.

“We tried to show them that to play at the top level is not easy and they have to work very hard. I’m very happy with the way they are working.”

Talking of Arsenal, you must be relishing Saturday’s return to the Emirates?

AS: “Yes, it is very important because I know Arsenal. They are one part of my life and, because I went there when I was 17, I always say it is my family.

“Today, though, I am focused on West Ham and I want to make the fans happy. I want to play this game and give my best to help the team to win and come back to winning.

“I know this is a special game for me, but that’s football and I have to take all the emotion out and just try to play my game and play the best football I can to help the team to win.”
Arsenal are in superb form, aside from their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first-leg defeat at home to Monaco…

AS: “I think Monaco how you want to play when you play in the Emirates. I know this stadium very well and I know when you play with Arsenal it’s very hard.

“The best thing to do is to try to be together, defend together very well and when you have the opportunity to go on the counter attack, you have to do it very well like Monaco did it.

“If you want to go to Emirates and try to play you will not have any chance to win the game there because this stadium is very hard to play in. You have to stay together very compact and not give them any room, then take the opportunity on the counter attack.

“If we do this very well like Monaco did, then we can get a good result there.”

We have performed well against the best teams this season, so there is no reason why we cannot do so again at Arsenal?

AS: “We have shown a lot of things this season as a team, especially when we play against teams at the highest level like Manchester City and Liverpool or Tottenham. We’ve done very well and we need to continue to improve in this way.

“We can play better and hopefully this game on Saturday will be a very good test for us. It’s been a long time since we won a game in the league, so we must try to come back and try to win or get one point there.

“It will not be easy, but if we’re all together as one and have the fans behind us, we can get a good result there. Everything is possible in football and we just need to keep believing and trying hard on the pitch.”