Abou Diaby - Excellence disrupted
He's big, strong but has legs made out of glass so it would seem, but don't forget what the Frenchman has to offer. In this piece, I will attempt to remind you what Diaby has to offer whilst giving you an idea on his future...
Cast your minds back to 2nd September 2012, Abou Diaby surprisingly starts vs Liverpool at Anfield. Needless to say his sterling performance should have been remembered, but unfortunately many have allowed themselves to forget it. Nevertheless, I'm here to remind you:
Here we see Diaby (yellow ring) applying pressure to Skrtel from midfield by pushing up from his defensive midfield/central midfield position to partner Giroud (pink ring) in almost a 4-4-2 diamond. This forced Skrtel to release the ball therefore gradually upping the tempo which favours Arsenal, whilst Liverpool players still being marked due to the presence of Arteta. Moreover, this meant Giroud could mark Agger meaning Skrtel's only options were to pass to Johnson or punt the ball down field, with the former giving Arsenal time to either press more or to position themselves more effectively.
Crossing (Attacking) - Frank Lampard Territory
Next we see Diaby (yellow ring) lurking on the edge of the area in a similar position to where you'd see Frank Lampard. This area is completely vacant of any Liverpool player (which is completely outrageous) allowing him to have a clear sight of goal should the ball fall to him. The position can often cause a mix-up between midfielders and defenders as to who should mark this area, so this is an excellent area to exploit.
Here we see Diaby (yellow ring) drift out to the left to A) help Podolski out because Liverpool doubled up on the German, B) pull his marker out leaving a huge gap in the middle of the park for Cazorla/Arteta to operate and C) give Gibbs a breather and allow him to position himself in case of a counter from the hosts. This is quite an unusual position to see a central midfielder in but one in which Diaby operates in with huge success.
Invite and Exploit
This is where we see Abou Diaby (yellow ring) almost encouraging Liverpool players (blue rings) to come tackle him. His close control and composure invites pressure onto him, often from many different positions (as seen in the picture) which allows him to act quickly, releasing the ball into space where the Reds' defensive midfielders have been drawn from. Arsenal can then counter from this especially with the array of slick, fluid passers we have in our lineup (both at this time and today).
The Future of Abou Diaby
I don't think it's possible to predict the future of Diaby. He's shown that when fit he can be 'the man': the ideal holding midfielder with power and vision that can be likened to Yaya Toure (who I believe we never signed because of Wenger's admiration of Diaby). Unfortunately, he hasn't been able to string a run of games together since 2008 and he isn't getting any younger.
One can only hope Abou Diaby will end his injury woes - however unlikely - and become a prominent member in the Arsenal squad. And as long as he doesn't do a van Persie should he endure one superb season, then I sincerely hope he can return in the most flamboyant style.
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