Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Diaby a missing piece?

Again, I was unable to see the match. Damn America. ESPN is ramming itself farther and farther up Sir Alex Jintao's nether regions.

After reading the match reports, I must say that I'm delighted and not all that surprised with the 2-5 win at Fenerbache. The back four seem to have been poor, Theo and Nasri seem to have combined quite well to add a needed width, but one surprising item did arise ... it seems that Abu Diaby hasn't taken all that long to find his form after another long injury lay-off.

It's been well documented, especially in this space, that Arsenal are light in the middle and it could prove a massive stumbling block this year. But could it be that the fragile Diaby is the difference-maker we're looking for in the middle? I can remember quite clearly stating over the last couple of summers - 2007 in particular - that Diaby would be one to watch (Jim, can you vouch for me here?). Sadly, constant injuries have held him back. When we brought him in, comparisons to Patrick Vieira were inevitable given their similar size, but Diaby always did seem to have a certain something extra that you look for in an Arsenal player these days. Safe to say that was seen in his one-two with Theo Walcott at the weekend. I will be no means intimate a superiority to Vieira, who is a legend and an icon, and one who also plays a different game, but what I think is worth noting is that Diaby has been trained under Arsene Wenger at a time when Le Professeur could arguably have perfected his approach to football. 

Bear with me ... Vieira joined Arsenal early in Wenger's time when, perhaps, the plot was still being drawn. Certainly Wenger came in with a different set of footballing ideals than had been seen at the time. And by now, it could be argued that Wenger has built his footballing philosophies to a point where they are almost on autopilot. 

So at any rate, to come around to my point, Abu Diaby could rise to fill a much needed role with Arsenal. He brings certain qualities that we've missed in Vieira,  size and strength, but he also seems to be equipped with an extra quality - a natural inclination to play the quick passing game that Arsene Wenger's teams have perfected and coupled with a hammer shot. 

Now to get some of Vieira's durability and utter refusal to lose and we might be on to something.

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