The Diaby Debate: Not Good Enough or Underappreciated?

By on November 6, 2009

Abou DiabyToday, ArsenalStation and, regular guest contributor, Ted Harwood, discuss the merits, deficiencies, and perceptions of Abou Diaby. You are welcome to comment on your take on Abou Diaby.

ARSENALSTATION SAYS: I’ve had this debate about Diaby for 2 years now. While some feel that he has improved this season, others continue to find fault with him. Let me try to briefly point out what I think his problems on the pitch have been, while Ted will talk more about the perception of Diaby by the fans. Diaby simply has not looked an Arsenal-type player. Yes, he has the technical ability which Arsene insists on, but it is the other intangible qualities that he has lacked.

First, his vision is limited. How many times can you remember Diaby making a killer pass to set up a goal? Second, he has been selfish on the ball and this has been biggest downfall. The club’s style is built on passing and movement. However, when Diaby has been on the ball this breaks down often. He has insisted on taking on multiple defenders only to lose the ball and gives the ball away cheaply.

Abou Diaby For me, it is not a case of Diaby not helping the team; rather, I believe that when he has been on the pitch, he’s hurt the team. He disrupted our style of play and kept us from developing the kind of rhythm we need on the pitch to be at our most threatening.When Diaby was in the match, it has always looked like it was Arsenal + Abou Diaby. He never looked a part of the midfield, but rather like he had been thrown into the midfield. Like a new player in a pickup game, almost.

Another problem Diaby has had, and this might be the one which has hurt him the most over his entire career, is that he is not versatile enough. This is another quality we’ve come to expect from Arsenal players. However, he struggled when played wide, and yet, for years, he did not learn to defend or tackle properly. Worse yet, he seemed not to have much desire to do either. Had he worked on these glaring deficiencies over the last two years, he would’ve been in a position to challenge Song for the holding midfielder role.

Despite being played out wide on the left for long stretches of time in the last two years, he also couldn’t be bothered to learn to put in a decent cross. This, I believe, came from a certain hubris on his part. The same hubris which manifested itself every time he tried to dribble through multiple defenders. We all know that most Premier League players were head and shoulders above the competition when they were youths, and that they were the player who was so much better than the others that they could dribble around five defenders and score 5 goals in a match.

Diaby has seemed to still think he is in that kind of situation. It’s why he doesn’t work hard enough on the deficiencies in his game and also why he continues, for some reason, to think he can beat two or three Premier League defenders. Diaby is useful to have as a squad player, but I fear he will never be anything more for the Arsenal and, in a year or so, we may be forced to sell him while his “potential” will still be included in his transfer fee. But, even I must admit that over the last few weeks, Diaby has looked much improved over last season, but, it seems that according to many readers, it will take more than a month or two for him to overcome the characterization built up over years which I have described above.

TED HARWOOD SAYS: Perhaps no Arsenal player has quite so divided opinion over the past year or so than has Abou Diaby.  Some may say that Denilson causes similar debate, but he has mostly won everyone over at this point.  A couple of years ago, Phil Senderos was the subject of alternating scorn and praise, but his Italian adventure and his subsequent de facto demotion have mostly silenced the discussions.  For a long time, though this year in particular, Diaby has been mystifying to many Gooners, myself included.  It is at times almost as if he doesn’t exist; no matter how he tries, no matter the goals he scores, he is still the forgotten Arsenal player.

The stars have not always been kind to Diaby during his time at Arsenal.  He had only been featuring for the first team for five months when Dan Smith of Sunderland came in hard for a tackle and broke Diaby’s ankle.  After Diaby regained fitness, he struggled to find a place in the side, with Fabregas, Hleb, Flamini, and Julio Baptista holding down midfield places over the next year.Abou Diaby

His fortunes didn’t regain their form any faster.  Arsenal faced Chelsea in the 2008 Carling Cup final, and on a corner kick, Diaby tried to clear the ball.  His boot instead squarely met the chin of the diving John Terry.  Only some quick thinking from Arsenal physio Gary Lewin and good luck saved Terry’s life, but for a while, things did not look good, and Diaby was visibly and understandably shaken by the accident.

Nonetheless, he battled on.  A solid if unspectacular 2008-09 campaign saw him feature on the left or in the center for a total of 36 games in all competitions, notching four goals and two assists.  Diaby developed a reputation for being a hard worker and a hard tackler and seemed destined to become the physical, lanky midfielder that many thought Arsenal had missed since the sale of Vieira in 2005.  No matter how he tried, though, Diaby seemed only to grudgingly win the support of fans.

Why is this?  Why does a man who, if we are to believe Arsène Wenger, looks poised to be an anchor in the Arsenal midfield for a long time, a man who has a good shot with both feet, why does he come in for such reluctant praise and such abundant scorn?  These questions are not meant as a rhetorical defense of the player.  I ask because Abou Diaby simply mystifies me.

This may have something to do with his style of play.  Diaby is not a flair player; this fact contributes to his invisibility.  He is asked to hang back and make the unspectacular pass much of the time.  He looks slow on the field, but in reality is probably quite fast, due to his long strides.  He does not complain when things don’t go his way; instead, he looks very much like the shy boy in fourth grade who just smiles when teachers call on him or when his friends talk about him.

This season in particular acts as a microcosm for Diaby.  He has featured in almost all of Arsenal’s matches save for the Carling Cup ties and the opener against Everton.  His stats paint a picture of a good, solid Premier League-quality midfielder: he has completed a very good 85.2% of his passes, has passed more than almost anyone on the team, has created more chances for the team than anyone except for van Persie and Cesc, and has won more tackles than anyone except for Alex Song.  He has won 13 fouls.  He has conceded 16 fouls, though, which is also second only to Song.  He has scored three times, but in a pretty, well, unspectacular fashion.

The problem with Diaby, and the main reason he struggles for understanding and/or acceptance from Gooners, is that he is simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, and when he finds himself there, he almost always does the wrong thing.  I don’t think I need to go into detail about Old Trafford this summer, but the look on Diaby’s face after his massive mistake was about the same as it always is; a blank, sort of bewildered stare.

Abou Diaby It was the same when he kicked John Terry in the face; he was torn up inside, but looked almost as if he was used to the heavens frowning upon him.  He simply walked back to his starting position as Robin shouted encouragement in his ear.  There was no stamping, no hands on the head, no pained expression.  There was simply Abou, slowly trudging upfield as 75,000 Mancunians screamed derision.  I half expected the music from the Charlie Brown specials to begin playing on the Old Trafford tannoy.

Last weekend at Upton Park was another example.  Diaby tackled young Hines in a position merely yards outside of the box at a time when Arsenal were under only moderate pressure.  Of course, this does not excuse Mannone’s error on the ensuing kick, but Diaby once again found himself in the thick of Arsenal’s troubles.

It is hard to understand why Diaby’s errors loom larger than others’.  It is hard to understand why he does not get the plaudits when he scores.  He seems to move through the game like a shadow, clumsy and forlorn.  He wears the expression of a man who cannot quite understand what is happening.

On the other hand, though, it is easy to understand.  His mistakes loom large because they play out against a murky grey background.  All of the good things Diaby does are largely invisible on the television.  His positioning isn’t terrible or anything; his passing, as noted above, is great.  His tackling is decent enough.  But he does very little that is immediately positive (although those chances he creates aren’t being converted, either; he has zero assists this year, and only two last year).

As one can tell, Diaby causes dithering.  I cannot decide if he is solid or poor.  The problem is that he can’t be a holding midfielder because Arsenal cannot afford to have someone who makes the types of mistakes that Diaby does.  This suggests that he may be more suited for an attacking role, where his mistakes are neutralized, but he simply does not offer the inspiration that Arshavin, Nasri, or Rosicky can.

With the likes of Fran Merida, Craig Eastmond, Aaron Ramsey, and Jack Wilshere threatening for playing time, Diaby should be concerned.  He simply doesn’t inspire confidence right now.  As Gooners, we must support all of our players, and I for one  hope that Diaby finds a way to put it together and have a great year, because it will only help the side.  I want to see Diaby excel, because he is a Gunner.  I want to see him smile.  But for now, there goes Charlie Brown, head bowed, wondering why the ball keeps getting pulled away.


  1. Michael Williams

    November 6, 2009 at 8:41 am

    This article is so true and so well written.. It sums up everything I have been saying of Diaby for the past couple of years… I personally dont think he belongs on the field with the first team and more fits the Carling Cup team… He just does not exume Arsenal when I see him on the field… Just get rid of him out of the first team and give Vela or Merida a run of games…

  2. ed

    November 6, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Get rid full stop he is useless we have plenty of attacking midfielders better than him and more coming through, we need more defensive midfielders.

  3. paul

    November 6, 2009 at 8:54 am

    just like how everyone said song wasnt good enough-
    look at him now without a doubt one of best players

    arsenal need presence on the pitch this is something that few other arsenal players can bring

  4. dave

    November 6, 2009 at 9:02 am

    Firstly, and I quote, “a man who has a good shot with both feet”..

    Sorry, but what did you base this on? You mentioned the four goals and two assists in 36 games, yet you don’t think that’s a poor return from a player that spent most of those games in an attacking position?! Also, ‘both feet’? His left foot is so bad I’m surprised he can use it to balance on!

    Secondly, you speak about his passing being “great” but in all the games I’ve watched him this year (season ticket holder) I’ve only noticed him passing sideways, or to the opposition! His sideways passing may look pretty on the stats, but they offer nothing to the team; and when he does give it away it’s more often than not in a potentially damaging area.

    Don’t get me started on how much he dwells on the ball..

    Bottom line, Diaby can have the game of his life one week and the next 10 games he’ll be terrible, and I mean really terrible, and detrimental to the team (think Eboue v Wigan last year)..

    Also, apart from the Man U game, has anyone actually witnessed Diaby winning a defensive header? I certainly haven’t, and as per the aforementioned game, perhaps that’s not such a bad thing after all.

    He needs to step up or he’s going to find himself another one of the ‘potentials’ currently playing for the lesser teams like Muamba and Bentley. Personally, I hope this happens sooner rather than later. We don’t need his attacking influence, and we certainly can’t rely on his defending.

    For some reason though, perhaps it’s because he’s tall and Vieira like, Wenger loves him! Sometimes I wonder what he sees?!

    • RedandDread

      November 6, 2009 at 9:14 am

      Bollocks…………he does have two good shooting feet……

    • Ted Harwood

      November 6, 2009 at 1:21 pm

      He really does dwell on the ball far too often; it’s one of the things that frustrates me the most.

      As for the “both feet” thing, I thought I recalled him scoring with his left in the past, but I may be wrong. My apologies if so.

  5. robert englebrook

    November 6, 2009 at 9:05 am

    asharvin is probably one of our best –
    but if we had a team of arshavins we’d lose every match

    unfortunately i think Pauls right
    thinking of nasri cesc arsharvin rosicky in the same midfield line up is amazing -but we need songs and diabys –

    look at the postive side -if diabys passing & sense of urgency improved hed be awesome

  6. mikeygooner

    November 6, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Michael i bet u said the same thing about Song!
    Diaby has his faults but arsenal fans are too fickle and hypocritical.
    The DM debate is not one anymore but how many people at the start of the season were saying Song isnt good enough and to buy one?
    Not a lot of teams boo their own fans off the pitch neither.
    People were even asking for Clichy’s head.
    Diaby will come good. Many didnt think Eboue or Song would.

    • ArsenalStation

      November 6, 2009 at 12:09 pm

      I can admit, Mike, for the longest time, I just couldn’t figure out what Arsene saw in Song. That began to change after his performances in the last ACN and then last season, I thought his potential was obvious, if unrealized.

      What I am saying is that Diaby seems to be finally getting to where Song was at in January 2007… instead of looking like a hopeless case, he now seems to be showing what he might be capable of in the future. He also seems to be working harder and playing smarter than he has in the past.

      People who talk about his inconsistency are missing the point I was making… I’m not actually talking about the goal he scored, I’m referring to everything else he did. He’s scored some great goals before but it’s the way he seems to better fit in with the side on the pitch this season that is encouraging.

  7. Bazza

    November 6, 2009 at 9:09 am

    What is it with Arsenal fans? There always has to be someone to criticize.

    When will Arsenal fans learn that Wenger knows best? We’ve seen it with Flamini, Hleb, Adebayor, Song, Eboue, Henry etc etc. The fans always get on the players’ backs and in the end the talent shines through. It was not too long ago that everyone was demanding Song be sold but now he looks to be one of the best DMs in the league.

    I for one have seen enough from Diaby in the past to be able to say that he has undoubted talent and is still a work in progress. Just support him and allow him to develop and in time he will become an absolute beast. Let’s not forget that he has barely had a run of games in his favoured position due to various injuries and being played on the wing. Keep the faith and Abou will reward us. The crowd groaning whenever he does anything bad will only dent his confidence and hamper his development

    • Ted Harwood

      November 6, 2009 at 1:23 pm

      I certainly hope you’re right, Bazza, and I would never condone fans giving one of our guys too much stick during a game. That never helps anything. I really do hope to see Diaby excel, because it will help the Arsenal, and that’s the main thing.

    • ArsenalStation

      November 6, 2009 at 10:59 pm

      You’re overreacting, Bazza. It is perfectly within a supporters’ rights to question whether certain players will reach their full potential for the club, especially for one who has been around as long as Diaby without showing significant improvement.

      We are not claiming that he has no talent and we also acknowledge that he is a “work in progress.” What we are wondering is whether or not progress is being sufficiently made and whether or not he will come to be a finished article at the club.

      Both I and Ted praised Diaby for his recent performances so I don’t understand why people would make comments as if we just bashed him.

      • Carlos

        November 7, 2009 at 3:49 am

        What i dont understand is the selective crucifiction of players. I have seen games where Arshavin did almost entirely nothing but somehow he gets away with it. Diaby has his share of blunders which is mainly attributable the loss of confidence ocassioned by so many injuries and lack of consistent run in between games. Wengers has always proved us all wrong and the most spectacular case is that of Song. Lets judge Diaby at the end of the season

        • Ted Harwood

          November 7, 2009 at 11:05 am

          It’s neither selective, nor a crucifixion, though, really. Arshavin is similarly maddening at times, to be sure. But he’s only been here for ten months; Diaby’s been here for almost four years. Arshavin is also a player who can cover up a bad game with one moment of spontaneous invention; Diaby’s positives don’t show up on the tv screen in the same way and make the announcers go mental.

          The whole article above is trying to figure out just why Diaby comes in for more criticism than others.

          When you say “Diaby has his share of blunders…mainly attributable to the loss of confidence,” I agree with you completely. This is at the “crux” of my “crucifixion”, if one wanted to call this article that. And I agree that we need to wait until May to see where Diaby has got to, and what the future really holds.

  8. robert englebrook

    November 6, 2009 at 9:09 am

    diaby won like 5 dfensive headers last week alone and scored with his right v AZ Alkmaar

  9. RedandDread

    November 6, 2009 at 9:12 am

    The only opinion that matters to me is Arsene Wenger….when he decides that Diaby is of no use then so will I. I agree that he has looked clumsy and out of sortsat times but considering the stop-start career he has had to date maybe that could be expected.

    He has unfortunately made one colossal error this season, for which he MAY never be forgiven. We sometimes forget that professional football players are human…and do err from time to time. It wasn’t that long ago that both Denilson & Song received the same circumspect discussion. I say give the lad a run, build up his confidence, his strength, his awareness and hopefully the talented and consistent Abou be the man we are consistently talking about.

    • ArsenalStation

      November 6, 2009 at 12:10 pm

      If the only opinion that matters to you is Arsene Wenger… why are you reading blogs?

      • Gunnersgun

        November 7, 2009 at 8:22 am

        wonderful rebuttal. SHORT & SHARP

  10. arsenal1

    November 6, 2009 at 9:12 am

    agree with bazza mikeygooner and paul

    so sick of arsenal ‘fans’ that dont even support our players

    • Ted Harwood

      November 6, 2009 at 1:43 pm

      We all need to support the team and Diaby when he plays, this much is clear, agreed.

    • ArsenalStation

      November 6, 2009 at 11:01 pm

      Wondering whether or not a player that has been at the club for over 3 years will end up fulfilling his potential is hardly “not supporting” the players. I personally feel that Diaby is starting to show what he’s capable of but I also understand the justifiable frustration many feel with him.

  11. arsenal1

    November 6, 2009 at 9:15 am

    also dave do actually watch football or just read about it?

  12. ben

    November 6, 2009 at 9:25 am

    At the Emirates on Wednesday night and thought Diaby was superb. OK, you can’t say he was the stand out performer, that’s a little difficult with messrs Fabregas and Arshavin playing so well, but his contribution was undoubtedly positive. He was a massive force in midfield and showed a more disciplined approach than he had in the past.

    Seeing him and Alex Song shielding the back four gave me confidence in our ability to defend, and it suddenly clicked in my mind about what Diaby can deliver (and admittedly does not week in week out, yet). He offers a compromise between defensive realism and attacking power that we desperately need. I won’t be the first to say that our beautifully attacking style would need some gentle tempering if we are to be realistic contenders for any title. But who wants to stick 2 ‘blocking’ players in front of the back four, a la Fletcher and Carrick for United? We don’t want to lose the attacking flair which is irresistible and admirable in equal measure. Defending in numbers, and then attacking in numbers is a very difficult feat to achieve.

    Diaby though, who is often criticised for not making full use of his physical frame, has an almost unique ability to thrust between penalty boxes in a flash. His long legged style can turn him from defensive play-breaker to attacking run-maker in the blink of an eye. Just look at the way he leaves Ramsey for dead from the halfway line when breaking for his goal against AZ. We’ve seen that from him before this season – getting the first and last touches in the move. And I believe the comparison with Ramsey deserves a bit more exploration – not in style of course, but in the reaction from the fans. When Ramsey gives the ball away he receives the kind of crowd sympathy that says ‘never mind, he’s learning, in a few years he’ll be the best’ (and of course he will be). But when Diaby does it, the reaction is ‘you’re sh*t’.

    I think people need to shift their mentality around Diaby towards the approach we take with our developing players – he is not the finished article, but could be a real gem. Yes he’s made more than his fair share of mistakes, but get behind him, get his confidence up and we’ll see how much he could bring to the team.

    • Ted Harwood

      November 6, 2009 at 1:25 pm

      I thought the same thing on Wednesday, Ben. He looked really good. Wenger did mention, however, that he has a propensity to get forward a bit too much still, and this may put him in a bad position defensively. His goal was excellently taken, though, there’s no denying it.

      • Comrade23

        November 8, 2009 at 5:56 pm

        Ben, regarding the Ramsey vs. Diaby comparison, I think that’s a bit unfair to the fans. Ramsey has had very few opportunities in the first team, being so young and only arriving last season. Meanwhile, Diaby has spent four years in the side, and has had to do very little apart from stay healthy to maintain his place. The fans have seen the same Diaby down these years, flashes of brilliance surrounded by far more displays of incompetence. On the other hand, while Ramsey has been far from perfect, his overall contributions have been positive, and his improvement, especially between this season and last, has been apparent to all.

        The Song vs. Diaby argument is invalid for the same reasons. Song looked lost and lazy at times two seasons ago, and early last season (the 4-4 draw with Sp*rs comes to mind). However, as AS mentioned earlier, in the last ACN and in the league after, Song shone when given a run in the side. Diaby, on the other hand, has shown less improvement and continues to make the same mistakes time and again.

        I don’t condone booing Arsenal players; players are cheered in varying degrees based on their performances, and Diaby is no exception. Our pub was rocking with chants of Diaby’s name earlier this season in our win over Pompey, and he has been regarded with a more negative outlook in the majority of other matches, as his performances have warranted.

        • ArsenalStation

          November 8, 2009 at 11:17 pm

          Absolutely right, Com23… The problem, for me, with Diaby has been the lack of visible improvement from season to season. Considering how long he’s been here especially. It’s only now four years on that we’re really seeing him play well in a defined role. And it’s not because he hasn’t had the games… he was a regular starter for much of the second half of 2007-08 when the team gave away what could’ve been an 8 point lead near the end of February. I can’t tell you the frustration I felt seeing Eboue on the right and Diaby on the left for all those months… I remember thinking, despite how well we had played up to that point, that no team with Eboue and Diaby as its wingers is gonna win the Premier League or the Champions League. What the 4-3-3 has done is allowed Diaby to go back to the middle, even if it is in a recessed position, and that has helped him. However, it is not unfair to take issue with the fact that despite getting starts for months on the left side of midfield, he appeared to have never tried to learn the position which only contributed to his ineffectiveness during that run-in. I am seeing some real positive signs from him this season and for the first time I am encouraged about his prospects.

  13. The New invincibles

    November 6, 2009 at 9:29 am

    Good article and well written too! I fear his time is up though with all the youngsters now knocking on Wenger’s door…. Coquelin, Merida, Eastmond, Aneke….

    Let’s give credit where due though, his assist for Bendtner vs Leige sparked our revival on that wierd night in Belgium. It was a super pass which Nicky finished with aplomb… shame he doesn’t do one of those (even if) every other game! Or is that too much to ask?

  14. TonyM

    November 6, 2009 at 9:39 am

    I hate picking on one player but he was absolutely dreadful in the north london derby. Looked like a deer in the headlights. Gave away possession almost every time he went near the ball. He had the blinkers on, couldn’t see any runs or open passes.
    I don’t know why Wenger left him on the field. He had a decent game wednesday but its typical Diaby, hot&cold.
    Wenger must obviously see his best in training. Maybe its a confidence issue. But i really don’t want to see another eboue type booing incident and i really feared for that saturday

  15. Alan

    November 6, 2009 at 9:52 am

    When we haven’t got the ball Diaby’s long legs carry him back, he gets a bit of the ball and knocks it a few yards to Song who moves it on to Cesc and off we go.

    The commentator doesn’t even mention his name.

    When we’ve got the ball he is able to play an accurate ten to thirty yard ball.

    That’s who Diaby is. That’s where he lives. That’s why AW picks him.

    He goes past a few players and then just stops moving. The ball is next to his foot (left mainly) but his brain has ceased to function. The opposition player nearest to him sees that he has turned into a statue so they mentally say “thank you” and take the ball off him.

    His mistakes and his goals more or less even themselves out.
    He will never get any better or much worse.

    He’s been playing better since he let his hair grow.
    He doesn’t often get booked.

    Song and Diaby supporting Cesc, playing behind Arshavin, RVP and Nasri/Rosicky/Bendtner/Eduardo/Walcott just makes sense.

    • RedandDread

      November 6, 2009 at 10:19 am

      He will never get any better or much worse….how the fuck do u know mate? What a dumb comment.

    • ArsenalStation

      November 6, 2009 at 12:11 pm

      The entire point of the article is that he IS getting better. I don’t think anyone can say that he hasn’t improved over last season.

  16. panda

    November 6, 2009 at 10:05 am

    if u want to complain about some1
    complain about almunia vs AZ Alkmaar he had 2 saves to make first 1 he stopped, gud save

    2nd 1…. wtf the fk was that ?
    and ffs ramsey just give up maybe that will work ?

    at least make an effort thats y everyone started to hate adebayor- (who actually couldnt b fuct coz he had no service from denilson eboue)

    gibbs i dont blame you at all

    and diaby try not to lose the ball so much and every1 will love u

  17. shaun

    November 6, 2009 at 10:14 am

    i think the advise given by Ian Holloway to JET, “When he realises what he has got and how best to show it off – I think he’ll be a terrific footballer” could also be true of Diaby with some other consdiderations.
    Diaby is an ambitious, offensive and competent footballer. fact. Arsene would not persevere otherwise and this is why he tries to take on 3 players at a time. He feels its within him and thats fine. However there is a rub and i believe its to do with the difference between slotting into the team on a’ give and go’ basis …. and his wanting to express his natural ability.
    He is somewhat out of the system at Arsenal and for want of a better phrase, needs to be tamed. though it is himself who will need to do the taming, keeping in check his offensive nature for what and how to serve the team best.
    Also I would like to see more 10 yard dashes from him and an improvement in his aerial combats and long range shooting, and I think he’ll be fine.
    As a footnote, to perform at your optimum you need your heart rate to be at something like 150-160 bpm. When john McEnroe loses his temper his heart rate goes up and his performances improve. I do think that were Diaby to put himself about more in a flamini/song fashion, clocking up distances run, his game would improve and we would all be happy with him.

  18. Paul N

    November 6, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Some Arsenal supporters are a pain in the backside. moan, complain and criticze all the blasted time, sickening!

    This young man is class but like Denilson, Song and even Eboue just needs time. The guy is a beast a breaking up play but no one sees that, Also some great goals.

    Support the team!

    Read a sensible article about Diaby.


    • Ted Harwood

      November 7, 2009 at 11:18 am


      Thanks for the comment. The yahoo article is a good one, and I think you’ll find that much of the statistical evidence used in it is also used here, to similar ends. Diaby HAS improved since September; the article here is simply working through some of the contradictions of his career and his style, a style which, as you point out, doesn’t always get noticed by supporters.

      Everyone here supports the team. We’re all with you, Paul.

  19. Flex Mauto

    November 6, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Arsenal game is based on quick passing and movement.This style means there will be many misplaced passes than defence splitting ones. We all know this but favoritism clouds our judgements.No-one complains when the Cesc or Rosicky give the ball away but when its Diaby, everyone is on his case. Against liverpool Ramsey played a dangerous back pass to the keeper that almost let Voronin in and did it last season against aston viall as well but no one said anything.As mention Diaby was terrible against spurs but arshavin was a close second.Remember Arshavin perfomance against fulham, pple excuse such performances by saying he is blows hot and cold. Why can’t the same excuse be used for Diaby?
    All i ask is a arsenal fans lets treat Diaby the same way we treat other players…he has score more goals that Eduardo, who missed 2 clear chances against the tiny totts but no one complains…
    lets be fair pple…

    • ArsenalStation

      November 6, 2009 at 12:12 pm

      That’s because Eduardo has shown that he can score on a regular basis… those two misses were flukes. Diaby has not shown us the kind of consistency over a period of time that Eduardo has.

  20. Paul N

    November 6, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Flex, I think AA was worse against the spurs actually plus Diaby had an immense second half.

  21. ewan

    November 6, 2009 at 11:01 am

    I don’t like his style. Get rid of him.

  22. Stone

    November 6, 2009 at 11:18 am

    very good article and the best I’ve read regarding Diaby. A fair assessment and in line with my opinion of him. What I find to be his problem is that he plays well against lesser teams while coming up short time after time when played against real opposition (Tottenham a good example). As many have pointed out, he is inconsistent but partly it’s that he is not a big game player, it seems.

    Last year I had no hope for him, this year I’m almost starting to like him. However, I believe that despite Wenger’s love for him, Nasri, Song and Cesc will occupy the midfield from now on with Nasri finally returning (ironically from a Diaby challenge). And also, I do think Denilson is ahead of him in the pecking order AND will also be Song’s temporary replacement once the ACN kicks in. Rosicky has also often been played in midfield and Ramsey and Merida are dying to get on the field and totally deserve their chance.

    To sum it up. I don’t think it’s a question if he is good enough to play for us. He is a very decent player and if Scholes and Carrick are good enough for a Top4 team than Diaby sure is more than a fine squad player. The most important question, in my opinion, is if he is better than our other options. He sure ain’t as good as Nasri and Denilson is also a step ahead of him (despite being 2 years younger). And if he will be the third choice back-up for midfield (counting Rosicky) than you can’t stop to wonder if he will have to make way for the seemingly bigger potentials of Ramsey and Merida. But Diaby offers us something different when he plays well and to have a big lump like that against physically strong sides can be a real asset. Our midfield options are endless and any talk of our midfield probelms seems to have died out. We have a broad selection of different players ranging from the silky-skilled Rosicky and Nasri to big, strong players like Diaby.

    But still, Ramsey has been fantastic in almost every game he has played in this season (apart from the AZ game) and usually things really change when he come on. So in a year, or two at most, Ramsey will surely be a much better player than Diaby.

    Live long and prosper, the future is bright and the future is now for the mighty Arsenal.

  23. Damn_Gallas

    November 6, 2009 at 11:27 am

    This article is superb especially the first part. Well said!!! Exactly how i felt.

    Yes diaby is not the defensive midfielder we are looking for and never will be. During Song’s departure for the ACN, and if Diaby plays as the DM, then all our hard work for the title push and CL, would be washed down the drain because of Abou Diaby.

    Though I am a 101% true arsenal fan, I am no fan of abou diaby.

    Simply for me, Abou Diaby is just not good enough to wear the arsenal shirt. Yes, he is a disturbance and disrupts our game plan. Well said by arsenal station, its just like arsenal + diaby!!!!

    Seriously i just hope diaby gets injured again, pull his hamstring, tore his groin, twisted his ankle, broke his leg, dislocated his shoulder, chest infection, etc, just get him out of the team.

    He has been given far too many chances, and he fails to take any of them. I would rather give these chances to Merida, Ramsey, Wilshere, Vela, Coquelin, Frimpong, Eastmond, Traore, Lansbury, JET etc.

    These young players are more eager to play the arsenal style than Abou Diaby. These young players are more committed and passionate about football, about arsenal.

    I just dont like diaby’s style and the way he look – expressionless. Everytime he does a mistake, he will always give the same old look, the innocent “act cute” look. Its not cute at all Abou Diaby.

    I seriously cant believe he completed so many passes, because all the passes that I saw were going to the opponents.

    Seriously, Abou Diaby has wasted so much of our time. Since last season, wenger used Denilson, and this season Song, then just let Song and Denilson play together. Forget about Abou Diaby.

    I would never forget how he gave man utd 3 points. If not for him, we would have been second in the league now!!!! If not for his weak tackle that gave west ham the freekick which leads to their comeback for a draw, we would have gotten 3 points instead of 1 point, and we would be top of the league now.

    It was all abou diaby’s fault!!!!!!!!

    Mark my words, Abou Diaby would not make it at arsenal, he will not and will never be. Even if wenger trusts in him throughout his arsenal career, Diaby would never be the perfect player. He would never be better than Song, Gilberto, Petit, Flamini, Vieira or Edu. He will just be a normal average player, nothing exceptional at all!!!

    He will not make it, and I even wonder would he be able to make it to the french squad for the world cup.

    Please leave Arsenal Abou Diaby, if you really love the club. Please leave.

    Lets call on Pepe to end abou diaby’s career rather than cristiano ronaldo’s career..

  24. Vince

    November 6, 2009 at 11:28 am

    How can anyone of you deny the quality and utility of Diaby. He provides perfect balance to the team. He does make the killer pass regularly. I for one go back and re-watch everygame I can 2-3 times and keep an eye on a few players, especially Diaby because he gets so much criticism. In the last three appearances, starting with the hammers. He played Sagna in down the flank to cross to Van Persie for the opener, and put in several tackles while in good position to break up the counter. Watch the games and you will see him hang back when we have four or more going forward. Spurs was not a fluid game but again his postioning if you watch the game was quite good to keep them from getting going. (along with Song) Against AZ he had three shots and one goal. He won the ball and quickly started the counter attack giving it to Arshavin who released Cesc for his second goal. the he started the move with a quick one touch move and ran tirelessly down the other end to finish. Give the man a break. Try watching a game more than once, and for more than just the goals and pretty backheels. He helps do the the thankless dirty work. Be a true Gooner and support the man that helps Cesc look the world beater he is. Up the Arse!

    • ArsenalStation

      November 6, 2009 at 11:06 pm

      Quite right, Vince. The thing I’ve been most impressed is that he’s stopped trying to do everything by himself, and because of that his passing seems better, and he is also committing himself to defending well, which is necessary in that midfield role. I think he could carve himself out a place in the lineup in that midfield spot if he continues to improve his defensive reading of the game, ups his work rate a bit, and continues to improve on his passing.

  25. Paul N

    November 6, 2009 at 11:33 am

    That was great Vince!


  26. Vince

    November 6, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Damn_Gallas, Fan or not that is an absolutely dispicable thing to say, even if Daiby Was a Sp*r. I hope all your ill wishes to Daiby happen to you and yours. Do you want the man to cry on the pitch when he makes a mistake? Would you rather him be over animated like Eboue? Some people are naturally Stoic, it is no reason to hate them. It does not mean they don’t care. It just means that they internalize things and don’t wear their heart on their sleeve. You all know wenger will put the best player on the pitch regardless of age or hurt feelings. So do you really think he feels there is a better player for the job? how emany more times will you disengenuous fans, who I suspect are Sp*rs or United fans here to wind us up continue to ruin the confidence of players and run them out of the Emirates. You hated Flamini, then he was o.k. Then Eboue, Song, Adebayor, and now Diaby. I would love to come to your work place and tell you how crap you are everyday and right memos saying that you are useless. See how that feels, maybe you might lay-off just a bit. I can undestand wanting the best for the gunners, but is it really necesary to bash a player repeatedly? If we are honest the man gave up an own goal, in a game where he was the best player on the pitch . (go back and watch it)Mannone should have parried wide regardless of who gave up the foul where.(West Ham) And if you look at it song has given up more fouls in dangerous positions. He was just lucky not to be punished. I for one Rate Diaby as my favourite player on the team and would proudly wear his jersey any day.

  27. Biggy

    November 6, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    You mentioned the John Terry insident twice if your write up to support your argument. This is not good as you also claimed it affected him badly [As a young man this was only natural].

    In your own assessment, he does most thing very well, but still falls short of your expectations of an arsenal player. But you can’t really have it both ways. A lot of the other players you mentioned have had their off days but we still love them as our players.

    Do I detect a bit of self satisfied pompousity in your tone?

    • Ted Harwood

      November 6, 2009 at 1:33 pm


      The only argument the JT incident is supporting is that Diaby has had some bad luck so far. I hope it’s clear that I am neither satisfied nor smug about this. Diaby does, in fact, do most things well, but many perceive him as being not Arsenal quality. The article is just an attempt to work through why that might be, is all. Anyhow, thanks for commenting!

  28. Ted Harwood

    November 6, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    I’m really glad that everyone’s airing out their thoughts on Diaby. I just want to re-emphasize (for those readers that think I said otherwise) that I believe he can become a great player, and that we all need to support whoever puts on the shirt and plays.

    Again, I don’t think Diaby is a bad player; my point is that for whatever reason, he comes in for a lot of criticism that others do not, some earned, some not, and I was trying to work through why that might be.

    Up the Gunners!

    • ArsenalStation

      November 6, 2009 at 11:08 pm

      And I would like to clear up my part of the post, as well… I was reiterating the criticism I had made of Diaby over the past two seasons but also acknowledging that he looks much improved on many of those faults this season.

  29. wesley gunner

    November 6, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    Mines and most people’s disappointment of Diaby is that when he came here we all thought that he was a Vieira. However as time passed we realized he is not and that pissed alot of Arsenal fans off because they wanted a new Vieira.

  30. GunnerX

    November 6, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    With a little patience,In time I believe Diaby will become the perfect box to box midfielder. Consistency and indiscipline are his biggest problems, but these can be worked-on, he just needs more playing time.

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