Abou Diaby: The maker of triangles could hold the midfield key

With the talk of Arsene Wenger looking for a new creative midfielder, the one player whose future becomes more uncertain is Abou Diaby. Seen as the new Patrick Vieira when he signed can the Frenchman be the missing link in midfield?
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Arsenal's Vassiriki Diaby (l) and Liverpool's Steven Gerrard battle for the ball

Actually the championing of Abou Diaby to play as a partner to Cesc Fabregas started at the beginning of the season with the departure of Mathieu Flamini. However as the season has progressed the tall Frenchman has fans leaving less convinced and as a result see Denilson and Song better alternatives or getting a new midfielder. This is without him playing central midfield more than once.

That match was against Portsmouth, incidentally also the match where Arsene Wenger signaled the need for a new creative player(s).  This surely raises question marks over Diaby’s future. If his creative ability is not seen strong enough by Wenger then the more advanced central midfield is also not seen as his ideal position.

Playing on the left has been a tactical ploy by Wenger; to improve his distribution especially in tight situations, to improve back tracking and dribbling, not to mention filling in for injured players. But this can’t be seen as his long term position leaving just two options; defensive midfield (second central midfielder) or as a link player.

His successes this season has been playing in the latter role against Aston Villa and most notably Fenerbahce. Against the Turks he showed glimpse of both sides of his game to get the first goal, tackling the ball off the Fenerbahce player, beating two men before passing the ball to Fabregas who set up Adebayor. The talent is certainly there; his strength and presence are his obvious qualities but has he got the tactical awareness (i.e. marking and positioning) and discipline to play as the second central midfielder? Is he ready to give up his attacking instincts at times to allow Arsenal to play? (We say second central midfielder as whoever plays doesn’t necessarily have to be a defensive midfielder who stays back at all times).

Back to the Portsmouth game, he showed he can pass the ball but lacks at the moment that ingenuity while discipline was harder to judge because fatigue  it seems affected his unwillingness to get forward. He has played two matches for Arsenal in the holding role; against Bolton in the FA Cup two years ago and for the reserves. Both times he played admirably an now the chance for him to get a run out in a similar role for the first team.

The most impressive thing about Diaby is his ability to support players with his movement and provide triangles. A shared role or one similar to what Spain played in EURO 2008 with Senna and Xavi can be envisaged. He could help link up from defence and midfield while if his partner drops deep make good forward impetus.

With him and Denilson in front of the back four they could provide the perfect shield for the attacking players to play (especially if a new winger is signed) as the individual is becomeing more improtant in the modern game. The role can be similar to what Carrick and Scholes are doing for Man Utd, Alonso and Mascherano for Liverpool or Vieira and Gilberto did for Arsenal.

What do you think? Do you feel Diaby deserves a try or is his favoured position higher up the field? Leave a comment, I’ll like to hear from you.

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18 thoughts on “Abou Diaby: The maker of triangles could hold the midfield key

  1. i think you are right, diaby could be very effecteive at shielding the defence. plus he has the ability to burst forward which would be ideal for counter attacks. also his height is key in defending and attacking setplays as we are a relatively short team who at times lack areial presence.

  2. Diaby’s biggest problem isn’t his creativity, as he’s often the one who provides the spark as he did for Arsenal’s beautiful second goal against Villa, setting it up and then finishing it nicely. The problem is Diaby is always trying to find a spark. he rarely takes a break to make the simple pass and keep arsenal’s play flowing. While he is good for one or two pieces of magic during a game, he loses the ball far too often for my liking. As the second midfielder, the ability to get the ball and move it quickly is one of the most important qualities. At the moment, he doesn’t have the discipline to make the simple play, or to take care of Arsenal’s defensive duties. His best position right now is as the link man for the strikers where his crafty plays come off more easily and more effectively. However he is still young and if he can learn the discipline he needs so badly he could be a very strong player as a second central midfielder.

  3. I think this boy needs to be given chance to show what he can do as a holding midfielder.We have not really seen the best of that boy in that area.I remember when we played sunderland afew season ago before he sustained the injury giving him probs,he was absolutely amazing…for me i believe he can do a job there(holding mid) but the qn is!! can he go 5 games without limping off with an injury???

  4. He’s definitely got quality, but he will remain below potential until he learns to lift his head and improve passing game, also his contribution to team defense is lacking along with others. When you don’t have a strong tackler/ball winner, the team must together compensate.

  5. mate i think he is the best along with cesc and nazri wenger is not using at the right positin.take denilson out and put hit in holding midfield then u will see wat he can do……

  6. I like Diaby;I think he’s got talent.He has got the basic ingredients to become a Viera-type midfield player.He probably only needs to be thrown into the deep-end.Mourinho transformed a very attack-minded Mikel Obi into the awesome defensive midfield player he has become for Chelsea.Wenger has developed great players in the past,he should with Diaby.

    It however is amazing that Arsenal are so in need of a defensive midfield player when you consider that a year ago, we had two of the best young players in that position in Diarra and Flamini in the squad. AW goofed there!

  7. i really havent seen him defend much…wenger said he doesnt kno diabys position, whether hez an attaking midfielder or a striker! but yea i like his creativity…nd he needs to perform for 90 mins…he jus died out in the 2nd half vs pompey

  8. There are times when diaby looks like he could be a great player, and there are many, many times when he looks like a playground player at best. This kid has some real weaknesses in his game and I don’t know if he has a winning mentality, as he looks disinterested much of the time. The problem with walcott, denilson and nasri and diaby is that they don’t trouble themselves to play any defense so the back four have no cover and will have no cover until these kids learn how to track back and defend as a unit. I don’t know if wenger can teach them or if they can actually learn – DEFEND AS A TEAM, ROVING PACKS OF TWO’S AND THREES SNUFFING OUT ANY ATTACKING MOVES LEAVING THE OPPOSITION NO PLACE TO GO BUT BACKWARDS – IS THAT SO HARD – IT’S ALSO CALLED TEAMWORK AND E F F O R T! If current form continues I don’t think these players will make it. There are all so young and think they have so much time and money that they can just show up and play around and everything will be fine. Kids – nothing lasts forever.

  9. Although Diaby looks to be missing a few pieces to his game, he does have the technical and creative abilty to play in an CAM type role. That said he would need to increase his concentration, work rate, and simplicity. After he has done this he can be a very impacting player for the club. He has more attacking ability than Viera but is just lacking that bit of chemistry with the other players. There really hasn’t been a CAM of his type. He’s tall, decent at shielding, he has skill on the ball, and can get defenders in real trouble. I say Arsene needs to tell him what he needs to improve on, work on it in training, and throw the lad in the mix. Give him some game time and experience in the position and allow him to mature because quite frankly…he’s got plenty of time with Cesc out. Have faith…Wenger didn’t choose him for nothing.

  10. i dont see diaby as a holding midfielder at all,he may look like viera but see him as hleb like player plays just behind the striker,he is has great ball retention and incredeble dribleling skillds but he does have the ability to track back and he does have the passing range needed not yet anyway,but he is hugely talented

  11. to be fair we cant judge him until he HAS been given a decent run in the team!
    i’m confident he can become the quality central midfielder we need.
    he does need to improve his decision making though…

  12. The comment of bokononist29 is the best I have ever seen of Diaby who I have always thot of as an enigma..

    His poitives
    very strong in a tackle…probably the most technically gifted in midfield…even better than Cesc…dribbling skills ..suprising turn of pace yes he is quick tho appears slow …his best attribute confidence and ability to receive the ball in tight situations…

    His negatives
    Technical awareness (this is what makes Cesc world class) poor defensive positioning …i inability to keep things simple ( remember cesc)..lack of vision…(pls think of Cesc)..holds on to the ball too long and so does not capitalise on advantage…(think of Cesc)…and as such frquently get caught on the ball…think of it how often does Cesc get caught out…

    I have come to the conclusion that Diaby is a bag of talent but a slow thinker and that is why AW is in a connundrum about what to do about him…if he can not make that CM position his now I don’t think he has a future at arsenal…The truth is Diaby makes me appreciate Cesc… football is more about intelligence as it is about skill…

  13. Diaby’s game intelligence is slow but I think if he improved his determination and commitment the sky’s his limit. Playing behind the striker he can be dynamic but I think always going to lack that killer instinct. The time I saw him play against Bolton he was disciplined and made some good tackles although maybe a bit slow in the pass. That was two years ago. Plymouth hopefully should provide the first chance.

  14. I think he needs to be given a chance in his natural, slightly more attack-minded midfield role.

    People talk about us needing a replacement for Fabregas, but there are a lot of problems with this.

    To get someone to sufficiently cover the Fabregas role, they need to be of comparable style and comparable ability. How many players of that quality are available in January? How many players of the calibre could we get reasonably cheaply, because you have to consider that this is a short-term problem, and there are other areas of the team that, in the long-run, are in greater need of improvement? What would happen when Fabregas returns?

    Diaby is a French international for a reason. He may not have the vision, passing or awareness of Fabregas, but he does have the power, skill and directness that we have been lacking greatly this season.

    Personally, I think he will always be an attack-minded player. He has never shown the defensive discipline to protect the space between midfield and defence; he likes to take his man on which could prove costly in front of the back 4; and despite a great physical prowess, he does not have a great defensive work rate.

    He is still rough around the edges, but I believe he can improve with game-time. Playing him behind the striker can be good, but he doesn’t always make the runs in behind defences; instead opting to run AT defenders, as opposed to past. This doesn’t help us with the lack of attacking support and movement you have always stressed we’ve lacked.

    Invest our money into a natural DM and use Diaby to cover Fabregas; a beneficial move in both the short-term and long-term.

  15. I think that one attacking midfielder will eventually have to go Brain, we have Denilson, Diaby, Nasri, Cesc, Bischoff to name a few.

    Diaby needs the opportunity to showcase his talent, agreed, but i really doubt he has the discipline to do that.

    Thats why i think he will go in Jan or the end of the season, i would like to see him go on loan for a while, that would really limit our resources somewhat though.

    We need a good defensive midfielder and a winger to bulk up the midfield so we can let diaby out on loan imo.

  16. I’d love to see him get a run of games as the slightly more defensive minded midfielder, preferably even as soon as now against Plymouth in the FA cup. The raw potential is certainly there; the tackling, the presence, the strength, the technique – all he needs is his brain to function properly. Once he learns when to lay the ball off for a team mate and take the simple solution the better off he, and the team, will be.

    But is now really the time? In my opinion he should be seen as backup for that role while a new one is brought in along with a winger that can perform immediately.

    My ideal solution would be getting Elano on loan as cover for Fabregas with a view to make the move permanent in the summer and then signing Arshavin (I can’t think of anyone else even remotely close to our price range that could do the Hleb-role) seeing as we needed a winger even before the injuries struck us. Then we’d have Elano, Diaby, Denilson, Song and Ramsey in central midfield while Cesc recovers and if Elano doesn’t impress he’s gone. Then Arshavin, Nasri, Eboue on the wings (Vela & RvP as backup) while Walcott and Rosicky recovers.

    Ah well, I’m allowed to dream, huh?:)

  17. Diaby gives away possession far too often, and seems to give up easily at times with defensive duties. I get very frustrated with his work rate at times, but he can be exciting to watch offensively. The thought of playing Diaby in central midfield scares me because I can just see him giving up the ball far too often and I don’t see him doing the chasing and snapping into tackles enough. Well, Song was a scary thought in central midfield when he initially started, but look at how he turned out! Song’s work rate was never seemed to be an issue for me though, Diaby leaves a lot to be desired.

    Even in the game against Celtic, I was shocked by his work rate given the effort being put in by his team mates and the fact that he was the one with fresh legs. But he did wonderfully to skip past his defender and set up Clichy for the cross that resulted in that own goal. I love to watch him offensively, but he has a lot of improving to do to be a consistent performer and earn a spot in central midfield.

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