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It's Going To Be A Big Season For...Part 1

It's Going To Be A Big Season For...Part 1

In the days building up to the season I will be writing a feature article on a player that has something to prove in the 2009-10 season. With our transfer activity once again looking to be laid to rest until 11.56pm on August 31st, Arsene will be storing faith in some players with whom question marks are still abound. Trips to Manchester United, Everton and Celtic will likely have been consigned to the record books by the time the next Arsenal recruit walks through the revolving door and that will mean relying on some questionably placed aces up the sleeve for the manager. With Rosicky edging desperately towards the cat-flap, limply searching for a quiet place to die and Nasri resuming a career long propensity towards the treatment room himself, the boss will be playing a few wild cards for some very important and tough fixtures. Thomas Vermaelen has well and truly nailed his colours to the Arsenal mast and proved he has Gooner credentials ebbing through his veins. Because he has injured his hamstring. Trust towards the boss and the board is slowly eroding and with such a precarious start to the season fixture wise, the possibility of not having many points on the board come mid September is a very real one and a prospect that will heighten the vitriol to unprecedented levels under Wenger`s stewardship. The purpose of these articles is not to create any sense of ecumenical harmony between the infuriatingly rigidly protocoled groups Arsenal fans have become obsessed with pigeon holing themselves into- the so called Wenger knows brigade versus the naysayers. But rather to consider the individual merits of some of the articles of Le Boss`s trust. First up, the enigma that is Abou Diaby.

In my match report for the Stoke City game in May, I wrote that one of Wenger`s challenges over the summer was to discover, "What exactly is an Abou Diaby and what does it do?" Too offensive to play defensive midfield, too careless in possession to play attacking midfield, too idle to play on the left wing, too ugly to join a boy band. Diaby`s charge sheet for crimes to Wengerball is too vastly populated for comfort. He`s lazy, he gives the ball away far too easily, for a physically imposing central midfielder he doesn`t win too many tackles and when he does try to he usually breaks bones. Abou Diaby is football`s answer to the wasp, the occasional sting in the tail all too often preceded by an eternity of buzzing around aimlessly and annoying the living fuck out of you. For instance, one of Diaby`s favourite tricks appears to be receiving the ball on the edge of his own area, weaving, ducking and diving his way mesmerically around five players, stealing away from his dumbfounded opponents manoeuvring himself into an acre of space and an ocean of time......before then spooning the ball out of play under no pressure. In a neat snapshot, this proves one over riding factor where Diaby is concerned; he has exquisite football feet but a lousy football brain. When left to run on autopilot, Diaby has few peers, surround him with opposing players or put him in any position where time is precious and scarce and the toes twinkle and his play sparkles. But when left to think, Diaby is more ponderous and unnecessarily long winded than another twenty minute Jimmy Page fret wank guitar solo. (Or one of my pointlessly over analogised sentences).

His lack of football intelligence is exemplified by the fact that he has been unable to carve out a permanent position for himself in the side. His stint on the left wing in the 2007 Carling Cup Final against Chelsea convinced you he could have a home in that position, weaving balletically between heavyweights such as Lampard (snigger) and seasoned campaigners like Ballack gave us hope he could offer a thrusting force from that position and add conviction to our midfield. Yet he has barely repeated such displays from there. Diaby has never been disciplined or conscientious enough to fill the defensive midfield slot- a position the manager tells us he was earmarked for in the summer of 2007 when Gilberto was on Copa America duty. The reason of course he was never slotted into that particular square peg was due to his most onerous foe- injury. Diaby has rarely been able to string together a series of games due to the persistent affliction. Ever since Dan Smith decided to go postal on Diaby`s ankle, niggling muscle strains have been par the course for the lanky French midfielder, which has disrupted him from establishing any rhythm. If Diaby is to prove himself worthy of his manager`s trust he`s going to have to sustain an adequate fitness level (and try his hardest not to break influential team mate`s legs in training).

Likewise Diaby`s performance as a support striker against Fenerbahce briefly elevated your optimism that Vassiriki Abou could play a prominent role in that position too. But then his limp displays in both semi finals last season from a similar area of the pitch retards your opinion of Diaby once again, leaving your estimation of him sagging towards the gutter once more. Plus, with Arshavin now on the scene, he is only ever going to realistically play second fiddle for that role in the concerto. Diaby is possibly the most frustrating player I have ever encountered in my time watching Arsenal. But one does not become so disgruntled with bad players- I can`t ever recall McGoldrick or Hillier frustrating me- I knew they were limited players and expected little more than the turgid fare they could barely scrape together. Diaby is a player I expect more from. It is said in some religions that of you take one step towards God, God will take two steps towards you. In my estimation, Arsene Wenger has taken a quantum sized leap towards Abou Diaby, so he must be waiting for a sagacious midfield player to break out of there somewhere. Diaby does have a lot of the qualities it is often bemoaned Arsenal lack, size, physical presence, balls the size of watermelons. (Figuratively speaking on the last point). Diaby has the power to dominate midfields; the problem is I`m not entirely sure he knows how to utilise that power.

Season 2009-10 needs to see Diaby become mentally disciplined and focussed- Arsenal are a team that is at its most effective when they move the ball quickly, Diaby can aid that with his sloping, gazelle like runs through the heart of the midfield, but he must also learn how to lubricate the Arsenal machinery by moving the ball quickly and being economical and accurate in possession. He needs to be more dynamic, track back and help his team mates more; basically he needs to stop playing the game like he`s waiting for the 155 bus to Streatham Common and start exerting himself more- that would tie in to tapping into his impressive physical artillery. The new 4-3-3 formation could give Diaby his best opportunity yet; slotted in a midfield three alongside Fabregas as the creative pivot and Song/ Denilson as the anchor player, Diaby could be freed from constraint somewhat, expected to predominantly be neither defensive screen or arch plotter. He could potentially add a bit of muscle in the defensive third when our opponents are in possession and maraud forward with impunity. He has served enough of an apprenticeship on the left side of midfield to plug the gap left by our left sided attacker (likely to be Arshavin). Indeed, Diaby started the game in Valencia at Denilson`s expense, which suggests he is being primed for precisely that role in the midfield triumvirate on Saturday in what is likely to be a physical contest at Goodison Park. If Diaby can discipline his game a little and start lubricating the brain cells and, above all, if he can stay fit, he might just repay his manager`s immense faith. But another season of injury and mediocrity will likely see him consigned to the scrap heap whistling his "coulda, shoulda, wouldas." In the words of Lloyd Grossman, Abou, it`s over to you.LD.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Writer:Tim Stillman
Date:Monday August 10 2009
Time: 10:06PM


there is no difference btw Diaby and Adebayor,jus dat Ade has a bigger mouth, They are both lazy,technically deficient,they constantly disrupt our attacks(either by losing possesion or straying offside) and are both basically CRAP. Am not very optimistic about this upcoming season bcos our team is still very deficient and if everyone in this forum cant see that. Positive thinking is great but in the face of obvious lapses,I cant continue to pretend all is well. What is the point of waiting till the last seconds of the transfer when by then we might already be several points behind our so-called rivals. Am sorry,will always be a lifelong supporter but I cant shake this negative feeling I have about this season.This is a make or break season for all of us,guys,fans,players,Wenger,the Board,everyone! Laughing stock or Respected club with worldwide acclaim. (am out)
10/08/2009 23:57:00
Make or break season for us,guys! The fans,players,Wenger,the Board,everyone! Wild guess.Rosicky must be be next.
11/08/2009 00:06:00
worst come to worst, we still can claim that at least weve won the prem league, where as liverpool have not.
11/08/2009 01:52:00
I never knew there was so much to write about Abou Diaby? I really feel like i understand him better ... :|
11/08/2009 03:13:00
So, £40 million received and only £10 million re-invested. A team then, you may think, that are champions of their domestic league. A team that must be drenched in success and absolutely dripping in silverware, that it needs so little tinkering. Alas, no my friends. I give you Arsenal. A team that contains Abou Diaby. Is there any ****ing point AW ? Honestly, is there ? Great piece as usual LD.
11/08/2009 07:56:00
Wenger is looking for Flamini-esque improvements from Diaby, risky strategy because if the Flamini project had failed he had Gilberto and Diarra to call upon now he has........? Dont think Wenger will spend any money until after the Celtic game as if we fail to qualify the funds raised will make up the shortfall and he wont really need to spend to enhance a squad that is not competing in the champions league. We get through and he gets to play his favourite game of last minute transfer window bluff. I dont think Wenger believes in this squad as much as he would have us believe.
11/08/2009 08:35:00
I think the whole Flamini one season wonder thing was a bit of a happy accident. Diaby was injured, Gilberto was on international duty, Diarra hadn't yet been signed and Denilson was still too raw. Flamini's career so far is showing signs of Viduka syndrome, he's only interested in the money so he's a "sing for yer supper" type. Lots of averageness punctuated by a decent few performances once his contract is nearing its end and he wants an improved deal. He did it to Marseilles and he did it to us. I can't see what's changed since Wenger told everyone at the beginning of the summer he wanted everyone on board before kick off. Failure to do that will cost us I think, more than squeezing another £32.63p off of original asking prices anyway.
Little Dutch
11/08/2009 09:06:00
I'm sure there's no one in this planet currently feeling more down than Rosicky himself. The last thing he needs are the persistent less than savoury comments made from none other than the club's fans. I mean, it is not like his choice to nurse one lengthy injuries after another. Other than that, good analysis on Diaby - especially "Too offensive to play defensive midfield, too careless in possession to play attacking midfield, too idle to play on the left wing". Apt.
11/08/2009 09:15:00
Rich, if arshavin's fee was an "advance" expenditure of 09/10, then I think there aren't much left in the coffer if indeed the transfer kitty is only made up of the "profits" AW made so far (and not from the budget sanctioned from the board). Just another perspective.
11/08/2009 09:19:00
don't forget "too ugly to be in a boy band" ...i mean, look at the photo, it almost makes me feel sorry for him.
11/08/2009 09:21:00
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