For a brief period last season, we thought Abou Diaby was back at his best, as the deep-lying midfielder outplayed Liverpool at Anfield and guided Arsenal to three successive clean sheets at the start of the campaign.
Yet Diaby’s return to the side following a series of bad injuries lasted less than two months as he first picked up a thigh strain before rupturing knee ligaments during a second comeback this spring.
There is fresh hope he will return and be the rock we need in the heart of midfield after Diaby himself told the football betting news that he should be back for Christmas: “I’ve got rid of my crutches. Now I have to walk,” he said. “I’ll start running again in a few weeks. I want to take my time to ensure everything is good.”
The 27-year-old must be going through agony at the moment, the same of which can be said for Gunners fans placing a bet on Premier League. We’ve been crying out for a defensive midfielder for the past two years and Arsenal’s situation got worse when Alex Song – who wasn’t good enough as it is – jumped ship to Barcelona last summer.
Wenger gambled that Diaby would stay fit and it didn’t pay off. Mikel Arteta has done a great job filling in during this season but he cannot be expected to play deep for another campaign – his talents further up the pitch are going to waste.
What Wenger needs is a fit, reliable, deep-lying midfielder to do what Diaby can only offer 15 times a season. That is to sit in front of this occasionally rickety defence and break down opposition attacks, commit fouls, and generally inject some nastiness into the team.
Diaby can do this but he’s out until at least Christmas and that means Wenger needs back-up. The boss may struggle to entice Marouane Fellaini from Everton, so a young overseas player like PSV’s Kevin Strootman or Etienne Capoue of Toulouse is a far more realistic target.