Arsenal’s Abou Diaby spoke of his astonishment to be flung back into first-team action as he prepared to help his club push for UEFA Champions League qualification through a Premier League fourth-place finish, according to Sky Sports.
After a calf strain rendered Mikel Arteta unavailable the day before Arsenal’s clash against Manchester City, the French midfielder – to his surprise – was named by Arsene Wenger in the starting XI.
Struggling with injuries himself, Diaby has been out of action after suffering from a thigh problem in the Gunners defeat at the hands of Chelsea way back in September.
“I knew the day before the game that I was starting, so I just had to prepare for that. I had been out for a long time, so I did not expect to be on the pitch so quickly,” said Diaby.
The North Londoners eventually lost 2-0 at the Emirates, with the Frenchman playing 61 minutes in his comeback game after injury.
Speaking to the club’s official website, he said: “I feel good physically. Of course I have been out for a long time so I am not at my best, but importantly I did not get any reaction. This is good for the future.
“I knew the day before the game that I was starting, so I just had to prepare for that. I had been out for a long time, so I did not expect to be on the pitch so quickly.
“But it doesn’t matter, you just need to be prepared and see how it goes.”
Wenger admitted after the game that his surprising team selection was a risky move, but that he hopes the French midfield general can build on his first performance for over four months.
“I took the gamble because I feel that it was needed. It’s good that he came through well. He will become stronger very quickly,” Wenger added.
“The team is desperate to do well and has quality. We need to be conscious that we have quality and we have to show more authority from the start in big games.
“The authority comes with the confidence in your quality.”
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