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.
Please feel free to get involved with your opinions by commenting in the section below.
Criticism of Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson unfair? stats suggest he’s England’s best option
The midfielder came under scrutiny for his latest performance.
England put an end to the World Cup opener curse after Harry Kane’s stoppage time header ensured England started the tournament with maximum points, with Tunisia looking more than likely to take their share of points in Volograd.
A promising opening 20 minutes was encored by ponderous and slow football in the second half, after the team began looking seemingly affected by Tunisia’s equaliser.
The additions of Marcus Rashford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek added impetus and purpose to the attack late on.
But prior to that, England struggled in pursuit of a second, and Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson came under fire for what was deemed to be a lack of creativity.
Many fans were questioning the omission of Jack Wilshere from England duties, as Gareth Southgate opted for the Liverpool man as the regular in central midfield. But last season’s statistics show some maybe being preemptive in wanting to replace the 28-year-old this World Cup.
Squawka stats (below) show that the Liverpool man was superior to both Eric Dier and Jack Wilshere in all aspects of midfield play in the Premier League last term, suggesting he could very well be the right man to continue starting for the Three Lions.
The former Sunderland man bested his two counterparts for number of forward passes, average pass length, key passes, tackles won, aerial duels won and chances created (all per 90 minutes), which sheds some light on why he’s a regular in Southgate’s team.
Fans criticise Jack Wilshere omission after Jordan Henderson’s ‘toothless’ England performance
Gareth Southgate’s bold decision is already being questioned.
England put an end to the World Cup opener curse after Harry Kane’s stoppage time winner ensured England started the tournament with a victory, with Tunisia looking more than likely to take their share of the points in Volgograd.
After a promising opening 20 minutes, England’s shortcomings in front of goal were punished as Tunisia were awarded a penalty – using VAR – and Ferjani Sassi equalised from the spot, heaping pressure on Gareth Southgate’s outfit to score a second.
But creativity was scarce from the Three Lions, in what was a stressful and frustrating half to watch for the nation.
And Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson has come under fire for his performance in the heart of the midfield, with many believing that Arsenal‘s Jack Wilshere would have been more creative and imaginative in central midfield, if he wasn’t omitted from international duties this earlier this summer.
Henderson frequently opted for possession over creativity and was guilty of taking too many touches in the midfield yesterday, particularly in the second half and the speed of play was directly affected as a result.
Here’s the Twitter reaction:
Playing teams like Tunisia, you need a player like Jack Wilshere who can unlock defences. I’d rather a half fit Wilshere over Henderson in there.
— Scott Johnson (@KingSMJ23) June 18, 2018
Am I missing something with Henderson though? Pundits praising him to the hilt but he did nothing for me. Wilshere and Shelvey would have done a better job for me.
— J.Steel.WHU (@BecontreeHammer) June 18, 2018
Relying on Lingard and Jordan Henderson to be the creative sparks when you have Jack Wilshere at home ????
— MILTON † (@Andy_Milton) June 18, 2018
Thoughts at 90:
England are dreadful
Jack Wilshere would’ve made tonight so much easier
Alli should’ve been subbed off at half time
Henderson can’t make a forward pass
Tunisia did very well
— The Real Miloš Penn(g) (@paperclipknight) June 18, 2018
Imagine jack wilshere playing balls forward into that front four instead of Jordan Henderson
— Steven Waters (@stevenwaters16) June 18, 2018
Jack Wilshere would’ve added a lot in this toothless midfield led by Henderson & co.
— Awalla. (@TheIDDI___) June 18, 2018
Wilshere would walk into this team, Henderson is so poor forever going side to side or backwards
— Abas Nawaz (@Abas_182) June 18, 2018
I still don’t get how Wilshere didn’t make it onto the plane??Bit of creativity,Henderson is awful
— RD1 (@Rossa_010) June 18, 2018
Henderson not positive enough, we someone like… You a Jack Wilshere type of player…@TheOfficialFNG ?
— Tom (@Tom97HD) June 18, 2018
Every time Henderson dithers on the ball I think of Jack Wilshere and how he should be playing!
— stephen sneller (@steviesnells) June 18, 2018
By no means did the 28-year-old have an awful game, but his choice of pass was often safe and as a result England lacked impetus and drive in the second-half, until the additions of Marcus Rashford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek added a spark in the final third.
Gareth Southgate will often opt for control in central midfield against tougher opposition – with Belgium on the horizon – but against the likes of Tunisia and Panama, the side can afford to take more risks and be more inventive, and the decision to leave Wilshere at home is already being questioned after just one game.
Crystal Palace fans thrilled with reports of Jack Wilshere interest
Crystal Palace fans are keen on the reported deal.
A move to Selhurst Park would reunite Wilshere with Roy Hodgson, his former England manager and a coach, whose belief in the Gunner is undeniable.
Hodgson displayed his admiration for the midfielder, after taking him the 2016 Euros despite him barely playing all season and he believes he could add the perfect balance to the Eagles’ midfield alongside enforcer Luka Milivojevic.
Wilshere was left out of the England squad for the World Cup this summer due to his diminished role with Arsenal, and revealed his “disappointment” on the day through his official Twitter account.
It now appears he will prioritise making himself essential at both club and international level next season, and that is unlikely with Arsenal.
Having improved his fitness, which has widely been considered his primary weakness, making 38 appearances in all competitions last season, Wilshere could become a serious asset at Selhurst Park, and fans have taken to Twitter to discuss the reports.
Here’s the reaction:
I feel we will probably only sign two first teamers, one attacking midfielder, if Yohan goes Jack makes sense, but otherwise who would he fit in? The other should obviously be a forward. Either way it would be good if we don’t bugger about as we normally do.
— Dave Hill (@Cpfc1905Dh) June 15, 2018
Come to palace jack
— Steven (@Steven_cpfc11) June 18, 2018
Signing for Palace in the next week mate go on you know you want too and your be back in the England squad sooner than you know it.. Guaranteed regular playing time at Palace under Roy as well lad. Good fan base too jack who would keep going though out the game ???
— Lukey (@lukeyCPFC34) June 18, 2018
Palace, Jack. You know it makes sense.
— Sam • ??????? (@SWPalace) June 18, 2018
Now we are seeing genuine reports concerning Jack. Got to say, I think he would add a lot to #cpfc but I suspect it would be either Jack Wilshere or RLC not both. (though both would be just fine as well.)
— Jim Foster (@jimbo2556) June 18, 2018
Would be delighted if this came off. Okay fitness record in the past two seasons hopefully means the days of playing five games a season are behind him.
— Robbie Welch (@RobWelch2000) June 15, 2018
Yohan Cabaye’s situation is currently unresolved at Selhurst Park, with reports suggesting that the 32-year-old could potentially move to Ligue 1 giants Marseille this summer, and the Frenchman would need replacing.
Having joined in 2015 for £10 million from French champions Paris Saint Germain, the veteran midfielder played a key role in the Eagles relegation survival, acting as the catalyst for control and mobility in the centre of the park.
And Wilshere would play a similar role. His agility and vision are reminiscent of Cabaye, but he has far more left in the tank.
It is safe to say the Englishman would be a real coup for Hodgson at Palace this summer and the fans agree its a deal the club should make happen.