Abou Diaby has managed just 53 minutes of football in all competitions thus far, and with only seven games of the season left, it is unlikely the midfielder will be able to make an impact on the field again this season.
His last game came against Liverpool as a substitute at Anfield, where the Gunners finished 2-1 winners courtesy of a sumptuous Alex Song chipped pass and a thunderous volley by Robin van Persie.
The French midfielder lasted only 27 minutes, however, before having to be replaced due to a calf injury.
Injury has been a persistent cloud hanging over Diaby for the majority of his Arsenal career, always hampering his ability to stake a claim to the first XI over a prolonged period. When Diaby is in form however, he can be almost unplayable. His abilities to twist, turn and trick his opponents are valuable assets to have in the team.
A graduate of the famous Clairefontaine academy in France, Diaby previously played at French side Auxerre, with fellow Arsenal team mate Bacary Sagna and Tottenham defender Younes Kaboul.
Wenger saw enough of Diaby to know that he could bring something extra to the team. He also knew of Diaby’s injury record, however, as the rangy midfielder was restricted to just 10 full starts in two years at Auxerre.
Diaby made his debut in January 2006, having signed for the Gunners in the winter transfer window, and made a total of 16 appearances.
A fateful match on May 1st against Sunderland FC, however, put an end to Diaby’s season after defender Dan Smith committed a horrific challenge on him to cause severe fractures to his ankle.
As a result, Diaby missed the UEFA Champions League final against Barcelona. 8 months later and Diaby was finally back on the pitch after undergoing several operations.
Diaby had rare patches of consistent performances between the 2006-2007 and 2010-2011 seasons. At one point in 2009, Diaby was an integral part of a three-man midfield alongside Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song but, again, injuries played their part in curtailing any extended stay in the team.
It is this constant injury concern that leads many Arsenal supporters to believe that Diaby will never reach the standard needed. A match at St James’ Park in February of last year did not help Diaby’s case to win over the fans either.
Arsenal were winning 4-0 at half time after a 27 minute blitzkrieg, but Diaby was sent off early in the second half after reacting violently to a bad Joey Barton challenge. Newcastle, with the man advantage, were able to make an unprecedented comeback to make the final score 4-4.
A sad day indeed for all Gunners fans.
Wenger has insisted that the players' desire to win has been strengthened throughout his injury crisis, and remains defiant that we have yet to see the best in the player.
Arsenal fans have witnessed star striker Robin van Persie be blighted by injuries, but now he seems to have removed the shackles and become one of the best players in the world. Can Diaby do the same?
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