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?
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.