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What to do with Diaby?

When we signed Abou Diaby from Auxerre in January 2006 we did so against strong competition for his signature from Chelsea. The French U19 captain had forged a fledgling reputation as a technically gifted and quick midfielder with interest around Europe. As a tall figure standing at 6` 4" with a leggy style of play comparisons to Vieira were inevitable.

He showed a lot of promise in the appearances he made in the 2nd half of the 2005/2006 season. That was until his season came to a premature end in the final month of the season suffering a broken ankle as a consequence of a two-footed tackle from Sunderland`s Dan Smith. Still he had done enough to create a feeling of optimism that we might have a replacement for Vieira that went beyond a passing physical resemblance.

Having recovered from his ankle injury his appearances have been restricted by a succession of other injuries which have prevented him from staking any real claim to a starting place. Apparently marked as the central midfield partner to Fabregas at the beginning of last season injury prevented him from doing so and allowed Flamini to make himself Cesc`s undisputed first choice partner. A position he held for pretty much the whole season. Diaby`s appearances, when fit, were restricted mainly to the left side wide midfield position - one he has never looked entirely comfortable with.

Again at the start of this season injury prevented any temptation to try him in a central midfield berth. To all intents and purposes he looks as though he should be a central midfielder but apparently he doesn`t think like one. According to Wenger he has all the attributes for the role except one.

"He has all of the ingredients both physical and technical but not tactical because in his mind he is more an offensive player and not a defensive player," said Wenger

"That tactical defensive awareness is more in Denilson or Song than Diaby, who is more interested in making a difference going forwards.

"But we try to develop that in him and he has the ingredients to be a central midfielder. He is conscious of that but also you have to choose a position for a player where he feels comfortable with his physiological profile.

"If you play somebody against his deep desire, he can never be completely himself."

Diaby has looked a top class player on occasions. In the Carling Cup final against Chelsea in particular but also playing centrally behind the striker this season against Fenerbahce and again against ManU at the Emirates. But we have plenty of choice in this role with van Persie, Eduardo, Bendtner and Vela all having claim to the position. It is unlikely that he would be able to make anything other than an occasional appearance there.

In the Manchester United game, though playing centrally he spent a fair amount of time on the right. Is this a position that he might find more comfortable being naturally right footed? It is one that he hasn`t really been tried in and we don`t have that many options beyond Eboue. It might be his one chance to find a role in the team because, unless he can change his mindset enough to acquire the defensive skillset to augment his technical qualities, he may find himself unable to fit in anywhere.

He is a tremendously talented player and we shouldn`t be willing to pass up on players with his level of quality too readily but at the age of 22 it is time for him to take the responsibility of making sure he meets the needs of the team and not the other way around.

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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday December 19 2008

Time: 6:57PM

Your Comments

I think the supporters response was discusting and there is no place for it in football
Huh? I agree with you, Diaby is way too talented to just be willing to get rid of him. I hope he can be more defensive but maybe playing on the right would be good. He just needs to find his niche, I hope he and wenger do that and very soon. I know you shouldnt cry over spilt milk but I always imagine how good he would be by now if that guy didnt foolishly stamp on his ankle. Did anything ever come of that situation?
I am a bit more straight forward in my thinking about Diaby, like Denilson, i think he a straight forward replacement for cesc's position but with a different style of play. He isnt going to dislodge cesc and trying to plae him anywhere else has not been productive.
continued from my previous post, I would like to see one of either denilson or diaby sold. who ever remains should be given the task of being direct competition for cesc. A proper defensive minded midfielder bought to compete with song.
Diaby has been around long enough, not to be considered a kid anymore. Wenger's words directly contradict his actions, as Diaby has not looked comfortable at left wing. Yet, he has been used there often in the last 2 seasons. So, I'm not quite sure what Wenger is playing at. Diaby needs to develop other aspects of his game, and quickly, if he wants a future at Arsenal. Its still not time to sell him, that would be premature, but this season is a turning point for him in many ways.
There's a pretty simple solution for Diaby. He has to stop being a lazy ********.
Little Dutch
lol LD, thats a bit too harsh, i dun think he really is that lazy, it's just the way he moves & his style of play that makes him look like he is taking the game too easy..
I'm with LD here. On the pitch Diaby doesn't look to give a *****
I think he would do better on the right. But only if he stopped being a lazy ****.
Without Ade and Bendtner, can Diaby play behind RvP in a 4-4-1-1 against Villa?
Diaby needs to be played in the correct position - he isnt a winger, no way! He is a vieria type player, he needs to be put in the middle. Now that Fabregas is out it might be a chance to prove he is good enought to sit along cesc when he does retrun.
As pointed out in the article above Wenger thinks that, for the present at least, Diaby lacks the defensive understanding to play central midfield. This is likely to fall to Song and Denilson who both had decent games yesterday. Maybe Diaby behind RvP might work against Villa and perhaps with both Ade and Cesc out we will see a little less of the long ball tactic that both players seem to encourage a little too much for my liking.
Whilst I think he is a good player there is an awful lot Diaby needs to work on to be even mentioned in the same sentence as Vieira. He really needs to work on his work rate and his knack for being complacent and too casual on the ball. In my opinion he needs to learn to be a more defensive minded player if he wants a future at Arsenal as he is not good enough as an attacking player.

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