Diaby Returns: Is There Still Hope for him at Arsenal?
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.
Abou Diaby arrived from AJ Auxerre in the 2006 winter transfer window and his lanky stature made the media 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. Just when we taught that things couldn’t get any worse for Diaby, he tore his anterior cruciate ligament on his left knee and the club announced that he was going to be sidelined for eight to nine months.
After a lengthy recuperation period, Diaby is back to full fitness and he even managed to get 45 minutes under his belt in the Arsenal U-21’s recent defeat against Chelsea U-21s. According to the match report on the official site, Diaby even had a chance to mark his return by a goal but the Chelsea goalie denied him his moment of glory.
Diaby has managed to amass 178 appearances for the club in nine seasons, which means that he averages just 19 games or so a season since he joined the club in January 2006. Diaby is undoubtedly a talented player but his injury woes has made him to become a liability at the club, rather than an asset. With a physique that is Patrick Vieira-esque in nature, the Frenchman combines his technical ability with good dribbling skills but he’s never around to showcase that talent.
Diaby’s cause wouldn’t be helped by the fact that the Gunners have so many options in midfield and with the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere manning the box to box role with authority, it would even be difficult for Diaby to get a shot in the holding role, as monsieurs Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini currently man those positions. He even has the threat of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to contend with.
Diaby is one of our best midfielders, but he gets injured so often and it has also been proven in the past that Wenger has a soft spot for him. Anytime he’s fit, he somehow finds his way into the first team at the expense of someone else. Take his last return for example, Wenger played Diaby almost instantly and that was around the time the WC qualifiers was heavy and he got used almost every game for 90 minutes.
Diaby has had so many injury setbacks and we as fans can only hope that is injury woes are now fully behind him. However, his contract expires next summer and I really don’t see the club renewing his deal.
It’s good to have Abou Diaby back.
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