Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger challenges midfield ace to earn Gunners deal.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says that his France international midfielder Abou Diaby is playing for his future at Emirates Stadium.
The 26 year-old’s talent has never been in question, but a plethora of injury problems have resulted in many Gunners fans feeling that too much mercy has been shown Diaby’s way – and that he would have been shown the door at any other club.
Wenger’s faith is justified to some degree though, for when Diaby is fit, he has proven himself to be a brilliant player. He ran the show against Liverpool at Anfield, and in France he is held in particularly high regard for his ability to drive on the team.
What’s more, in the second half of the match against Swansea City in the FA Cup, Arsenal delivered perhaps their best display of the season. Diaby partnered Francis Coquelin in deep central midfield, with Jack Wilshere in the number ten position and Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott wide with license to roam inside.
Whilst Wilshere earned much of the praise – and deservedly so – Diaby and Coquelin formed a solid base for the side, and Wenger will no doubt be eager to test his experiment again.
“It is a big period for him,” admitted Wenger of Diaby.
“He is conscious of it. He does everything, but you do not want to put any pressure on him because he has enough. He puts himself under so much pressure, Abou.
“He is a very conscientious guy. You should see how he works, how he is focussed every day, because when a guy suffers as much as he did he becomes very professional, very rigorous.
“You have some guys, they can drink five beers, come to training, and play and go home and nothing happens to them. And you have other guys who have to look after everything.
“When you have a guy who is injured a lot, and he has not a serious life, you can say ‘you see, you are punished’.
“With Diaby, he has a very serious life, doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t go out, and is very conscientious in training. So you always feel sorry for him, so you always touch wood it will go well for him.
“Of course (other players would have stopped trying). Honestly, what he has gone through is unbelievable.”
Wenger added that Diaby’s injury troubled him particularly because the bad tackle that caused it was avoidable.
“It is frustrating because it all started with a bad tackle at Sunderland, in the last minute of the game, of the last game of the season, which was decided already,” Wenger said.
“So you always think ‘One thing that was so stupid can have such an impact on a career of such a big player. When he plays at his best, of course. Arsenal have a different dimension.
“If you love football and you see a player like Abou, you want him to have the career he deserves, especially when he has the attitude that he has.
“You are in a position where you have to have patience. Because what did he do wrong? Nothing. At least you have to give him a chance.”
“I am not the only one who says that,” added Wenger citing the high reputation of his midfielder in his home country.
“In France, everybody says that.
“He can defend, he can attack. He is strong in the challenge. He can dribble. He can pass players. He is very quick in the transition, offence, defence. When you win the ball he can cross the pitch quickly. And he is good in the air.
“Once you put all these qualities together… and he is a fighter. With great stamina. So when you put all these qualities together… Of course I would put him next to Jack [Wilshere in terms of quality].”
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