By now you may well have seen the all too familiar news that Abou Diaby became reacquainted with the surgeon`s knife this summer on another ankle injury. Diaby`s time at Arsenal has been absolutely riddled with this sort of affliction and it doesn`t take a fantastic leap of logic to connect that to Dan Smith`s horror lunge which left Diaby with a fractured and dislocated ankle. That challenge was over five years ago now and still Diaby is having corrective surgery.
Whatever you think of Diaby`s abilities, you have to concede that it is tremendously sad that a player`s livelihood has been affected so badly as a result of one piece of thuggish lunacy. With the score at 3-0 to Arsenal in the 92nd minute, with Sunderland already relegated and Diaby eight days short of his 20th birthday and sixteen days away from the prospect of playing a Champions League Final in his home city, he was chopped down and has never really gotten back up again. The challenge was worse than either Taylor`s or Shawcross` in my opinion. Though the aforementioned were reckless and dangerous, I believe Smith intended to hurt Diaby and hurt him badly. Point to note, Smith was sent off on his professional debut. This game was also the last he ever played for Sunderland- which confirms my suspicion that they are hardly the sort of club to tolerate these tactics. Smith now plays for Blyth Spartans and works part time in a call centre.
The injury begat a series of never ending calf and thigh niggles. As Eduardo found to his cost, the ankle is one of the worst places to obtain this sort of injury because there are so many connecting ligaments and tendons that impinge on mobility if they aren`t at 100% of their capability. When the connection between ankle and shin is severed in such a way, it rarely reattaches itself very firmly. Aaron Ramsey`s biggest fillip is that his injury was higher up his leg. Of course Diaby has been further wronged as his current problem emanates from two very poor tackles in very quick succession. Paul Robinson`s despicable chop last September in a game against Bolton, followed by Essien`s cynical stamp on the same ankle a fortnight later.
Perhaps the most galling realisation is that, between them, Diaby`s assailants have been punished to the tune of one yellow card for their discretions- awarded to Dan Smith. Diaby`s Arsenal career has followed an all too predictable pattern of returning from injury, taking a couple of games to get going, putting three or four incredibly promising performances together, then getting injured and beginning the cycle again. This summer`s surgery means that pattern is doomed to repeat itself for a while longer and the fact is that time may very soon be up on a potentially excellent Arsenal career. I don`t think I really want to reignite the tackling debate or whether Arsenal are afforded rough treatment. It`s ground that`s been well trodden before and I don`t think there are enough of those little veins left in my forehead to answer the next, "It`s a man`s game, innit" riposte. I just wanted to highlight that there`s a human side to this. Because of one ill judged and reckless piece of violence, in a meaningless scenario over five years ago, a promising career looks set to evaporate. I think we can all down tools and agree that that`s very sad. LD.
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