Abou Diaby and Injuries: A Curse from Beyond?
Truth be told, injuries have become part and parcel of the modern game.
The competitive nature of football has led to teams battling each other for the ultimate goal of gaining victory and like every battle, there are casualties. In a club as technically proficient like Arsenal, they are players that are always on the line of fire due to their style of play while there are others that are just unlucky.
I don’t know if there has been a horrible cause placed on Arsene Wenger and his team (not talking about the trophy drought here) because it’s extremely shocking to know that almost everyone in the team has suffered a major injury at some point in their Arsenal careers with the exceptions of Olivier Giroud, new boy, Nacho Monreal, that has been with the club for a month and Santi Cazorla, that is terribly fatigued.
In goal, Wojciech Szczesny (ruptured tendon and ankle), Lukasz Fabianski (shoulder and ankle) and Vito Mannone (thigh) were all missing at a point in time that made Arsene Wenger to coax Mad Jens Lehmann out of retirement to stand between the sticks against Blackpool in April 2011.
There was also a curious case of the defense, where all recognized fullbacks, Bacary Sagna (lower leg), Andre Santos (ankle), Carl Jenkinson (back) and Kieran Gibbs (stomach, foot, ankle and for just being Kieran Gibbs) were all missing in action. There have also been periods when center backs, Thomas Vermaelen (Achilles tendon), Per Mertesacker (ankle), Laurent Koscielny (back and calf) and Seb Squillaci (back) have faced spells in the sidelines.
Arsenal’s midfield is obviously synonymous with injuries with the likes of Aaron Ramsey (lower leg), Tomas Rosicky (hamstring, Achilles Tendon and ankle), Mikel Arteta (ankle), Jack Wilshere (foot and ankle), Emmanuel Frimpong (knee), Francis Coquelin (hamstring), Andrey Arshavin (foot and ankle).
The Gunners forward line can be potent when the attackers hit top gear but injuries have played a part in hampering the progresses of players like Theo Walcott (ankle, shoulder and groin), the Ox (ankle) and Lukas Podolski (foot and ankle).
Despite the terribly unfortunate and inhumane amount of injuries that have ravaged Arsenal in times past, there is one player that stands out from the rest with more injuries than the amount of times Roman Abramovich hires and sacks managers.
Abou Diaby arrived from AJ Auxerre in the 2006 winter transfer window and his lanky stature made the media vultures label him as the next Monsieur Vieira. He wore the No. 2 jersey last worn by the great Lee Dixon and he made 12 league appearances before suffering a horrific ankle fracture following a horrendous challenge from Sunderland’s Dan Smith.
He missed Arsenal’s Champions League final against Barcelona as well as the 2006 European Under-21 Championships with France U-21s. Diaby went through a series of surgeries to fix up the ankle and he was sidelined for an entire pregnancy period. After recuperating and rehabilitating from that career-threatening injury, Diaby notched up a handful of appearances in 2007 before suffering another injury in the tail end of the year with Mathieu Flamini while representing France.
A year after that, Diaby suffered a thigh injury despite scoring in Arsenal’s ill-fated Champions League quarterfinal exit in the hands of Liverpool in March 2008. The injury escalated to a critical level forcing Diaby to miss out on Euro 2008.
Between 2009 and 2012, Diaby suffered a hip injury, calf injury, knee ligament damage, ankle injury, another ankle surgery and a thigh strain. There was even a period in his career when he traveled to the Middle East and the United States in his bid to save his career but Diaby made a long-awaited comeback against Liverpool in Anfield last season only to leave the pitch after 26 minutes.
That clearly showed that his globetrotting antics to the ends of the world to solve his injury problems had been a waste of time but Diaby insisted that his career isn’t over:
“People say that I’m fragile and although I understand why, I am not fragile. I’ve had three operations on my ankle, all for different problems but the result of that was that my body is unbalanced, especially in my legs.
I have overused one over the other and to put everything back in place is not easy.
Diaby went on to say that his problem is “biomechanical” and blabbed about how good he is physically and mentally.
With all the talent available at his disposal, Diaby cannot be banked upon to give his services on the pitch, as he tends to spend an eternity off it. After making one of his trademark returns, Diaby declared that he wants to repay the undying faith Arsene Wenger has shown to him and he intends to live up to his “massive potential” billing.
This season, Diaby enjoyed a decent preseason by his standards and put up one of his finest outings in Arsenal colors in the 2-0 victory over Liverpool in Anfield. Comparisons between him and Vieira gathered momentum yet again and just when Arsenal taught that it was finally going to reap the fruits of it’s undying faith with Diaby, he suffered an injury against Chelsea in September that ended in a loss for the Gunners.
Since his return to fitness, Diaby lacked that cutting edge he showed at the start of the season and he has been in and out of the team. His last performance against Swansea seemed good from a statistical point of view but he was culpable for being sloppy in possession and the introduction of Ramsey turned the game on its head.
Just when we taught that things couldn’t get any worse for Diaby, the club confirmed that he has torn his anterior cruciate ligament on his left knee and he’ll be sidelined for eight to nine months. The never-ending injury tale of this talented midfielder has taken another twist and I cannot see Diaby coming back with a bang from this.
At this point in time, my prayers are with the player but I believe that this is probably the last straw from an Arsenal perspective. The club has catered to his countless injuries and I’m sure that he has gone beyond the threshold.
Diaby will certainly not be ranked among Arsenal’s much talked-about deadwood, but I feel it’s high time the club cashes in on the lanky Frenchman, when he returns to optimal fitness levels of course.
Let’s face it, on his day Diaby can be a force to be reckoned with but what’s the use of having such an asset when it turns out to be a liability?
Diaby has provided Arsenal fans with a lot of fond memories as well as pretty annoying ones, but it’s fair to say that his injuries are beyond normal.
Probably a curse from beyond.
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