The departure of Alex Song from Arsenal left many of the clubs supporters in doubt.
Having lost both the defensive midfielder and clinical striker, Robin Van Persie, during the summer transfer window, Arsenal looked in a worrying position.
Arsene Wenger seemingly failed to move for a suitable replacement as fans of the North London club began to question the Gunners position in the Premier League; had they just become a feeder club for Europe’s top sides?
But, like he has done many times before, it seems Wenger had an answer for this problem, a solution that’s a lot closer to home than previously expected.
Abou Diaby has been an Arsenal player since 2006, when he joined the Gunners from French side Auxerre for a reported £2 million.
I’ve always been a fan of Diaby, despite having a career filled with injury; he’s always impressed me when he’s been fit.
The 26-year-old has made 166 appearances in total for Arsenal, scoring 19 goals. He made his debut for the club in January 2006, appearing as a substitute in a 1-0 defeat versus Everton.
Diaby has started the 2012/13 season fantastically –he’s already appears to have filled the hole left by Song. Arsenal are yet to concede in their 3 opening games, this is mainly due to Diaby’s work in the holding midfield position.
With an average rating of 7.57 (out of 10) and ten tackles in total, the Frenchman has been influential for the Gunners.
Arsène Wenger heralded the return to fitness of Diaby as a ‘massive’ boost for Arsenal after the he orchestrated victory against Liverpool in his first full 90 minutes for over 12 months.
The midfielder, who was restricted to just five appearances last season due to hamstring, groin and calf injuries, dominated against Brendan Rodgers’ team as goals from summer signings Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla secured a comfortable victory at Anfield.
While the performances of Podolski and Cazorla were eye-catching and hugely encouraging for Arsenal following the recent departure of Robin van Persie to Manchester United, it was Diaby’s return to prominence which defined Arsenal’s victory.
The 26-year-old was magnificent as the Gunners took 3 points, controlling the midfield alongside Mikel Arteta to finish as man of the match.
“You can see that Diaby is massive for us.” Wenger said. “He is a tremendous football player who has everything you want in midfield.
“He hasn’t played a full game for a year, but he had a good pre-season and we just gave him 45 minutes every three days.
“Now he looks, physically, in a good shape. There is more to come from him, but what he has shown today is very good.
It seems Wenger knew all along that Diaby would easily step into the first team. Last season for Arsenal, Song played 44 times creating 13 goals. He played a big role in their chase for a Champions League position. Only time will tell whether Diaby can fill his boots at the Emirates, but he’s certainly made a good start.
While touted as the perfect replacement for the new Barcelona star, however, Diaby insists City powerhouse Toure is a more accurate comparison.
‘In our teams, Toure and me have very similar roles,’ he said.
‘I am not like Alex Song. We have many players who can take his place, like Francis Coquelin or Arteta, who like to play deep. I want to get forward, that’s me.
‘I have defensive duties as well so I need to have a good shape defensively and, as soon as we get the ball, go forward.’
No doubt Wenger and all Arsenal supporters will be hoping this turns out to be true.
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