The Abou Diaby conundrum

Abou Diaby is an interesting player. And by interesting, I mean incredibly frustrating.

All Arsenal fans must realise he’s immensely talented. Arsène Wenger agrees, and has persisted with the midfielder through-out his injury problems.

He has his fair share of detractors, and I’ve been amongst them. While his injury problems are frustrating, what’s also frustrating is how his attitude comes across when he does get on the pitch. Often he’s seemed vaguely disinterested, and his lackadaisical style leads to a lot of misplaced passes.

As I said, few people doubt Diaby’s talent. When he’s fit – and when he applies himself – he can be brilliant. I’d compare him to Manchester City’s Yaya Toure; a midfielder who, due to his appearance, physique and background, was pigeon-holed as a defensive midfielder, but is far more comfortable as a more offensive midfielder.

But the main difference for me, on top of the injuries Diaby has suffered, is application. When Yaya Toure plays, he seizes the game by the scruff of the neck, and imposes himself. Diaby, on the other hand, has often shied away from responsibility on the pitch and actually been fairly detrimental to Arsenal at times.

As mentioned earlier, his passing is often sloppy, and he’s sometimes very ponderous on the ball. In the past he has slowed down counter attacks and is regularly robbed of the ball while assessing his options.

There are some things he could do to improve this infuriating aspect of his game. He could make better use of his strength when shielding the ball, rather than timidly surrendering, but also improve his awareness – he needs to be aware of opposition players trying to win the ball, as well as being aware of passes to make, releasing the ball earlier rather than dwelling on it.

So far in pre-season, Diaby has looked good. He’s been able to play at the top of Arsenal’s three man midfield, and has looked purposeful and powerful, making use of his repertoire of attributes. His confidence seems back, and most importantly he’s swerved clear of injuries so far.

That confidence might be something I’ve over-looked in the past when criticising him. When you don’t get a run of games because of injuries, and simply can’t string one together, it must be difficult to build up any confidence, inhibiting your performances.

With the state that Arsenal’s midfield is in, Abou Diaby has a great chance to nail down a regular place in the side. Of course, that will depend on his luck with injuries, as few players have had such bad luck as he has (fellow Arsenal players Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky will contest that, though). But it will also depend on his attitude when given a chance.

He won’t be able to wander through games as a passenger, which he’s done far too often in the past. Arsenal’s number two (what a ridiculous number for a midfielder) will need to stamp his mark on games, and if he does he may yet revive his career in London.

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19 responses to “The Abou Diaby conundrum”

  1. Patrick Ssekatawa says :

    You’re being too unfair and unkind to a player who has never had a full season free of injury at Arsenal. For me, like Wenger, in Diaby I see a world class midfield player in the making. He does not lose the ball because of his lack of protective nous, no. He loses the ball by trying to beat too many men before passing the ball to a fellow Arsenal player. That used to be the problem with his compatriot Franck Ribery, but it goes with increased playing time and confidence, as a confident dribbling wizard can beat players for fun.

    I’ve watched Diaby twice this summer and I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve seen. Good passing, good vision, good movement and a real drive in midfield, and this makes me lick my lips in anticipation of what a player he will be this coming season if he manages to stay injury-free

    Don’t criticize Diaby that hard, brother, he’s been permanently injured. Just pray for him to play the whole of next season uninjured, and you will be able to see the player he has always promised to be.

    • Anonymous says :

      Well Said Patrick, you are right, if he is fit he can be our best midfielder and with Song & Wilshire that would be some midfield.

  2. odira says :

    i am poor diaby please help me odira egwuonwu francis nigeria

    • Anonymous says :

      il help u, giv me ur address and il send u some money for a flight to england, a fake passport and then u can live here for free and get goverment hand outs. jog on u fuckin ponce!!!

  3. Mamadou says :

    Diaby retains the ball better than any other player in the EPL except maybe Nasri, so I don’t get where you’re getting all this awareness nonsense. His main issue has always been over-dribbling, most of his turnovers are as result of trying to beat too many people or failing to pick a pass after beating too many people. Agreed, he could take more responsibility because of his abilities but the comparison to an ever fit Yaya Toure, whose application and technique are very different from Diaby’s is clumsy. Just because they’re both tall and black! I mean Ivorian

  4. Olami Naija says :

    You need to be a little more fairer when talking about Diaby, truly. Let’s just hope that he gets lucky in the new season and stays injury free. And hope after impressing he doesn’t see himself as being too talented for the AFC like RvP.

  5. Oguntuase Amos says :

    Your comments are unfair to a player who had suffered recurrent injuries like Diaby. If Wenger could tolerate RVP, then he could as well bear with Diaby. Diaby is a better player than you have described him. Often most self confessed gunners want players to be sacked or sent away. The mere fact that a player does not perform in a particular league does not make him useless. Remember that these players are bread winners of some people. Football must not be reduced to a game devoid of human feelings and passion. Arsene Wenger and Arsenal FC are humane in their approach, they aim to make rather than to mar, they assist to develop players potentials rather to use and dump them and above all they see even the minutest glimpse of usefulness in every player which they want to unmask and develop. It is the greed of some players and the deliberate poaching by clubs with questionable sources of finance that deliberately plotted and colluded to undermine Arsenal FC knowing fully well that the collection of talents we have if allowed to stay together would be very difficult to beat. Please stop abusing players, don’t call any body deadwood just because they are not living up to expectation because nobody can allow himself to be labelled useless. We must ensure that our comments do not discourage the players, they all need our support.

  6. Sam Drew says :

    I agree with those of you who say Arsene is right to keep faith in Diaby, absolutely, and I said as much in the post. But when fit, Diaby must start repaying that faith, because he hasn’t done enough to do so just yet. I’m not criticising Diaby as a player, because I think he’s got some great qualities. He just needs to start using them more often though.

  7. DrakeGoona says :

    Hi, the expression is “Scruff of the neck”

  8. Tunde Damendra says :

    Diaby is a good player but, he needs to be polished

    • neoboya says :

      I had an arguement with a United Fan yesterday but we both agreed Diaby is a world class player “in the making” despite our differences. My fear is after he manages a season free from injury, he also might me clamouring for lack of Ambition. 80% of Arsenal fans if asked about giving Diaby a new contract will oppose it BUT they also will shout at Wenger for not extending Diaby’s contract and letting him wait till he has 2yrs left on his contract(after Diaby hits it).. This is just the situation with a certain fat headed dutch ingrate who has never been loyal to Arsenal.

    • neoboya says :

      I had an arguement with a United Fan yesterday but we both agreed Diaby is a world class player “in the making” despite our differences. My fear is after he manages a season free from injury, he also might be clamouring for a move CITYing Arsenal’s lack of ambition as his reason. 80% of Arsenal fans if asked about giving Diaby a new contract will oppose it due to his injuries’ record BUT they also will also be the first to rant, curse and hurl abusive words at Wenger for not offering Diaby a new contract early enough instead of waiting till he has 2 yrs left on his contract(That is when/if Diaby hits d best form of his life after an injury free season)).. This is just the situation with a certain fat headed dutch ingrate who has never been loyal to Arsenal.

  9. Forza Gunners says :

    Because he appears laid back, doesn’t not equate to him not caring, and as you have eluded to he has a lackadaisical style, which probably aids his composure and skill on the ball. To rush for his game would equate to losing the ball more. However he could release the ball better.

    Your comparison to Yaya is lazy and his style resembles to me and is probably based on zizou, similar build, and emphasis is on dribbling, both can Pass. Though diaby isn’t in the same strata of zizou in terms of delivery and gravitas.

  10. ASNLthruNthru says :

    Can’t see how you guys give Diaby so much credit, he is nowhere near world class even if Wenger may think so.In fact ,his most notable moment for Arsenal ,in my memory,is getting sent off for lashing out at provocation at Newcastle,allowing them to humiliate us by scoring 4 goals (almost 5).
    Top midfielders train themselves to “walk away’ from Joey Barton.
    I don’t expect any miracles from the lad this year.
    Prove us wrong, Abou.

  11. Dr Emmanuel says :

    Not only is Diaby immensely talented,with a combative physique and an excellent body movement in response to the ball to outwith opponents but most expecially what makes me a fan of his is his ability to shoot at the goal post without missing the the target.I still believe CR7 does not get the target with his shots for Real Madrid than Diaby .By the grace of God,Arsenal and the Premier league may witness a Diaby weened of injuries like RVP had last season and the sky will not be his limit.Diaby must add to his injury free campaign ,pace while on the ball ie being fast with each of his moves.The lack of this is usually the reason he looses some of his balls.BUT ABOVE ALL HE MUST WITHOUT DELAY DEVELOP A PASSION FOR SHOOTING AT THE GOAL POST FROM ANY POSSIBLE DISTANCE that will make him increase the number of times he shoots at the pole and therefore the number of goals he scores.With these we could all witness a superstar Abou Diaby

  12. vladablok9a says :

    Johan Djourou is worst player I ever seen next is diaby,

  13. ASNLthruNthru says :

    The Ox and Arteta are the few players who have it in them to dare shoot from distance which doesn’t seem to be too high on Wengers agenda.

  14. Sam Drew says :

    I’d just like to clear this up – shooting from long range is nearly always a waste of time. While we see lots of screamers from other teams, we probably don’t see all of the shots that are wastes of possession. If you’re desperate for a goal and running out of time, it’s worth having a go perhaps, but otherwise it probably is better to keep possession and wait for a clear-cut opportunity.

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