Without sounding like a broken record Arsenal have had an up and down summer in the transfer window after losing Alex Song and Robin Van Persie but bringing in Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla, the latter pair finally linked up and finding an end product at Anfield this Sunday to help take Liverpool down.
But whilst these departures have affected the Arsenal team it appears one renewed arrival in the first team could become one of the standout players at The Emirates this season.
After suffering a couple of seasons of injury turmoil Frenchman Abou Diaby appears to have finally rediscovered his 2009-10 form. On his day the 26-year-old is simply unplayable and could finally have put the fitness issues behind him and push on to have a hugely successful season.
With natural strength, speed and an always surprising dribbling ability Diaby has the potential to be Arsenal’s Yaya Toure this season. A hidden advantage to Diaby’s return to fitness and form is the ability to play Mikel Arteta in a deeper role. It is easy to forget that Mikel first developed in the famed La Masia, Barcelona’s youth system, as a player in the holding midfield role. As he reaches 30 a step back to the deeper position seems logical and his range of passing, tactical awareness and Premier League experience adds a real strength to an occasional flimsy Arsenal midfield, which this season has been largely responsible for their 100% defensive record.
Abou Diaby has quite frankly been like a new signing for the club and the similar effects of such an introduction appear to be contagious amongst a sturdy Arsenal side. The form of another injury prone player in Per Mertesacker must not be overlooked. While he still occasionally lacks the pace to compete with the Premier Leagues frenetic style he has been superb aerially and has started to show his magnetic ability to be in the path of the ball more frequently this term.
Now Arsenal fans will just be hoping a similar impact can be made by the return of fellow long term absentee Jack Wilshere once he finally recovers from a series of ankle and knee injuries. Wenger was clear during the window that adding a midfield player was not a priority with the considerable talents of Diaby and Wilshere spending the majority of last season in the cold of the medical department and he may be vindicated in his conviction.
If Diaby can reproduce his man of the match Anfield form regularly he may prove to be more important to Arsenal then any of their new signings this season.
What did you make of Abou Diaby’s performance? Can he be the catalyst for silverware?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald