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Diaby, a tribute to a player to whom fate has been unkind.

Another post from our now official partnership with the Facebook group “OOOh! To Be A Gooner!!” (more commonly known as OTBAG) – This one by Abhishek Nair (@AbhishekNair18)

Arsenal’s midfield commander, Patrick Vieira after serving 9 brilliant years at North London, finally departed in 2005 and was swiftly replaced with a largely unknown quantity, Abou Diaby. The young Frenchman joined Arsenal in January 2006 from Auxerre in a deal worth close to 2 million pounds.No one ever dared to question Arsene Wenger’s buys, as the tactician often purchased relatively unknown players and molded them into superstars, like our very own French contingent of Henry, Petit and Pires.

Diaby made his Champions League debut against Real Madrid in the Round of 16 clash in 2006 as a substitute and that was when the world got a first glimpse of the talent the young Frenchman possessed. The Gunners went on to win the game 2-1. The midfielder was further influential as he provided a useful assist in Arsenal’s 4-0 drubbing of Fulham and scored his first goal for the Gunners when he featured in the 5-0 rout of Aston Villa.

Set to pick up the reins from Vieira, the talented Diaby seemed  to have settled in quickly and looked like the perfect replacement for Vieira. The former Auxerre man proved to be having the mettle in him, to be the driving force of the team whilst representing defensive solidarity.

Everything seemed perfect for Arsenal’s newest acquisition, but that changed on the 1st of May 2006 when Arsenal took on Sunderland. Wenger’s men were cruising with an unassailable 3-0 lead when the world witnessed a moment of madness in the closing moments of the game. Dan Smith needlessly went in with a two footed challenge on Diaby, leaving the Frenchman with a fractured ankle, and that has had a devastating effect on the player ever since. The timing of the injury proved to be crucial as Diaby missed out on the Champions League final against Barcelona, which saw Arsenal go down 2-1.

Despite this huge setback, he looked to have returned strongly back in the 2009/2010 season, making 40 appearances, walking into the France national team for the world cup and rightly earning his current contract that many choose to unfairly curse him for. Sadly, there is arguably no one accursed by fate, as our very own Abou Diaby. His injury problems recurred again in the 2010/11 season with another reckless challenge by Paul Robinson further exacerbating his injury issues and forcing him to undergo surgery on his ankle in 2011. This was followed by a long rehabilitation process that involved travel to consult specialists as far and wide as Qatar and New York.

Looking back, barring the season when he renewed his contract, the midfielder has struggled ever since he got injured by Smith’s horrendous tackle and has failed to get a consistent run in as injuries proved to be just around the corner, unfortunately.  It felt like just yesterday, when a smiling Diaby with his long strides played a neat ball over three Brighton defenders and his compatriot Olivier Giroud scored in Arsenal’s FA Cup triumph against Brighton not too long ago. The world came to a standstill a few days ago when Diaby’s injury news broke out. The Frenchman injured his knee during training and subsequent scans confirmed that the player tore his anterior cruciate ligament.

The injury would keep the French international out for 8-9 months approximately and has hit the player at a time when his club needed him the most. Diaby managed to make 15 appearances this season for the Gunners and has had a telling influence whenever he took field.

Early in the season everyone at Arsenal Football Club were delighted at the sight of a fully fit Abou Diaby, with the latter looking strong, energetic and most importantly looking prepared to take the team forward after Robin Van Persie’s departure. The midfielder certainly put in a Man of the Match performance as he played a key role in the Gunners 2-0 victory away at Anfield.  Arsenal did look like a top side that day and with their performances that followed. Diaby’s influence on the team grew steadily. Move forward to September, the Frenchman got subbed off early in the game when Chelsea visited the Emirates as the Gunners went down 2-1 in what was a closely contested game, and there, Diaby was sidelined for 3 months. The midfielder had just come back from a calf problem that kept him out for 3 weeks and was just getting back to his best before calamity struck yet again.

Abou has been a disciplined lad, who’s learnt to take care of his body after injuries have threatened to cut short his career on numerous occasions. One just can’t blame him and can term all this just plain and simple, unlucky.

Arsenal have always been by Diaby’s side as he has struggled in his 7 year career at the Emirates with fitness problems. Wenger commented on the midfielder’s special talent when he said “Diaby has long strides. He’s the closest to Vieira we have found in a long time”.

Arsenal will continue to keep the faith in Diaby just like they did with Van Persie and hope one day the midfielder will be able to put his unfortunate affair with injuries past him. The club is facing trying times and the Dutchman moved on, but rest assured the modest individual Abou is, he will definitely repay the trust shown in him, in every possible way.

We are saddened by the news of the 9 month layoff but we need you Abou, recover soon. COYG!

26 comments on “Diaby, a tribute to a player to whom fate has been unkind.

  1. Emotional tribute.

    Get well soon Abou. Next time you come back, stay fit until you retire! You can be a great player and we all want you to be an Arsenal legend.

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  2. This is why I’m a ‘positivista’. I am so pleased that you have posted such a sympathetic article about one of the unluckiest players in football! I feel sad for Abou because he has had no real opportunity to achieve his enormous potential. I am amongst those fans who believe we have seen evidence of his fantastic talents. I hope that you are correct in writing that Arsenal will stand by Abou. I think they will, they have class. The eternal optimist in me believes Abou will come back and make a significant impact. Get well soon, Abou!

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  3. Enjoyed that,from the “it’s such a shame but it’s time to move him on” brigade,to the “wengers an idiot for having faith in an always injured player”mob I always say the same thing,if Abou was your son,mate or brother and you heard those disrespectful comments how would you feel?,thankfully Arsene Wenger is an even better man than he is a manager.

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  4. Mel .Top post mate.

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  5. Well said Mel, “Wenger is an even better man than he is a manager” , absolutely!

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  6. I got a lot of grief on the other blog for suggesting that a fully fit Diaby was first choice in MF.
    He was

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  7. Pedantic

    ACLF?

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  8. Diaby is easily first choice in MF for the box to box role…he provides a balance to the MF that Jack doesn’t in that role and helps out Arteta immensely (no surprise that our best defensive run of the season was with those two combining in MF)

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  9. Well said that man. Take a bow.

    And Mel also. One the things I’ve always admired about Arsene (as well as his obvious genius) is his humanity. He’s basically decent, one of the “good guys” if you like. And, whatever it’s failings, I like to think Arsenal as a club retains a touch of “class”. Some of the comments by Arsenal “supporters” re: Abou, are depressingly devoid of any of the aforementioned.

    People will say it’s a football club and we are meant to be “winners” first and foremost, no time for dead wood blah blah. I could never understand that attitude. It’s a terrible shame about Abou, a hugely promising career has been derailed through no fault of his own, and if you can’t feel any empathy toward the young man’s plight then frankly I worry for you.

    Looking forward to seeing him back in the shirt, and back to his best.

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  10. I heard that the great warrior Achilles was felled after a cowardly blow to the ankle.
    I suppose he didn’t have the right build for battle either. Glass ankles and everything else, innit. He wasn’t made for the hard life (ask Schneider, Terry or Barton) and should’ve chosen a career as a Wengerite librarian or something. Need to get in a proper big ‘un, like Huddlestone. Then we’ll be alright. Or even Scotty Parker, the poor mans Mikel Arteta.

    The Arsenal Peru commentators have some Arsenal class, obviously. Though I can’t understand a word!

    Interesting thing about the post ’10 Robinson, Essien and Barton kicks/flying kicks on Abou: None of them received a yellow if my memory isn’t completely useless, and I don’t think any were even called as fouls.

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  11. Apologies is this is a double post – my previous effort went somewhere, just not sure where.

    That was a great post but reading it made me want to weep. The poor guy is cursed and life can be so unfair. However, for inspiration (in this context only), he can look at the experience of J van C. Get well soon, Abou and come back stronger. We’re right behind you.

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  12. Just listened to Steve Bould on Arsenal Player and read his comments about Aaron Ramsey. His words suggest that fans DO affect player morale. Even more important to counter the pernicious, doomers here, there and everywhere!

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  13. i can not comment without having a go at the “get stuck in” mentality of english league football…..

    as ive mentioned many times in the past ..what the club lacks is a spokesman/tiger to protect our interests as a club on and off the pitch.

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  14. Really good summary of Abou’s unfortunate injuries. I don’t think anyone is in doubt that he has exceptional quality that we could really do with having. You feel that he’s quite a modest guy who works hard. Assuming we stand by him (which I very much assume we will) then I know he’ll stick around. He has the potential to be a massive player for us.

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  15. I think to satisfy the Gods I shall chain Dan Smith to the back of my chariot and drag him around the walls of the Emirates three times

    Bitter ? Me !

    Even on the pitch Abou has had the fuzzy end of the lollipop – four seasons ago I think, at Trafford Park, he put in a really great performance only to cap it by knocking in the own goal from Hell past Almunia, which combined with a dodgy penalty robbed us of three well deserved points

    Now where can I find Smith ?

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  16. “Interesting thing about the post ’10 Robinson, Essien and Barton kicks/flying kicks on Abou: None of them received a yellow if my memory isn’t completely useless, and I don’t think any were even called as fouls.”

    This is what I cannot abide – fellow professionals deliberately targetting another player. They know how short a player’s career can be, yet show no respect or duty of care. Even if they passed a lie detector test I would not believe that these 3 incidents were not deliberate. As for the cowardly referees who failed to punish these illegal acts, how much longer can they hide behind the veil of incompetence?

    On a more positive note, thanks for the article – it’s good to see some respect and empathy for Abou.

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  17. great article, although I do remember abou after the villa goal demanding to play in the middle and not on left as he was then , he is an undoubted talent and the good ole british don’t like it up em has robbed him and ARSENAL of great success hopefully not completely.

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  18. That’s interesting a or b, because I don’t recall him demanding anything. I do recall lots of gooners questioning why he was playing out of position on the left and Arsene saying he was there to improve his left foot.

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  19. passenal knows

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  20. In Passenal We Trust.

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  21. straight after that wonderful villa goal he was being interviewed by everyone, and saying he would not stay on the left ,now I know those naughty media types may have taken his words out of context but it was definitely out there

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  22. diaby will come true..no doubt about that.

    however i would like our song back (of thats an option that is).

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  23. Nice article, hope abou gets to see he has support. Aliways amazes me that so called fans pick on certain players and calls them twats, idiots etc. unless I am missing something it’s the manager who puts them on the pitch. We have lost three players to kamikaze tackles and I think it is a great compliment to Aaron Ramsey that he has got himself back to form inspite of all the idiots who have lambasted him. Not sure Eduardo ever got his game back. Here’s hoping that Abou proves them all wrong

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  24. You made my day with such a sympathetic post and I was almost reduced to tears with the statement from mel “Arsene Wenger is an even better man than he is a manager”. It always gladdens my heart to hear comments as such. About Arsene. While wishing Abou a speedy recovery, I say God bless everyone in this forum…..

    Thoughts with Abou!!!

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  25. Glad u liked the piece,my heart goes out to Abou.. I wish him strength to fight and make a miraculous comeback.

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