Abou Diaby has come in for a fair amount of stick this season. There are occasions where he just doesn’t seem at the races. At the moment it’s unclear whether he has the talent or ability to make it at Arsenal and he certainly doesn’t appear to have the correct mentality. As a result he’s joined a list of Arsenal players that fans are keen to get rid of this summer. Alongside Diaby, the likes of Emmanuel Eboue, Denilson, Gael Clichy, Nicklas Bendtner are thought by many to be surplus to requirements at the Emirates.
Whilst I can understand the frustration of the fans, I wouldn’t necessarily advocate Arsenal moving Diaby on to another club. It’s his attitude that frustrates me most: too often can he be seen strolling casually around the centre of Arsenal’s midfield, carelessly letting the game pass him by and refusing to assert himself on the proceedings.
As a result he’s developed a reputation for not being able to score/shoot, not being a good passer and not being able to dominate the centre of the park. This just isn’t the case: we’ve seen on rare occasions that Diaby finds form, he has something to add Arsenal’s game.
Diaby’s job as a central-midfielder is to keep the ball, drive play forward, break up opposition play and make the odd foray into opposition territory. These are all things Diaby has done relatively well this season and whilst I grant that he’s no Cesc Fabregas, he’s a country mile better than Denilson. In fact, I’d argue that Diaby’s technique and ability to keep the ball under pressure is nigh on unrivalled at the club.
The trouble with Diaby strings from the fact that he’s almost always out injured. He’s rarely ever granted a run of games in the first-team and as a result Arsenal fans rarely ever get to see a fully-fit Diaby playing at the peak of his game. This is why words like ‘languid’ and ‘leggy’ are attributed to Diaby: not because of his mentality but because of his fitness issues.
When he does get an opportunity to play, he can often impress, despite a distinct lack of match fitness. In recent memory, I recall Diaby putting in decent performances against Blackpool (a very mobile, buccaneering performance), Tottenham and Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final. Before we call for his head, I’d like to see what Diaby can offer Arsenal if he can stay fit and get a run of games in the squad.
There must be a reason why Wenger has so much faith in Diaby and I for one would like him to hang around for at least another season in an attempt to see why this is.
Moreover, with a number of players set to leave the Emirates this season, Wenger wont want to initiate a sea change. Whilst Denilson’s Arsenal career is over, there’s a role for Diaby at the club as a squad player until he can prove himself worthy of something more.
Read more of Harry’s articles at This Is Futbol