This article is meant to commemorate Vassiriki Abou Diaby.
On the news that he has finally been released from the chains that have shackled him for eons to the Colney treatment table, Arsenal have decided to cut loose a player who could have been an Arsenal Great.
The first blog I ever threw together was centred on Diaby. Why? Because he was my favourite and adulation comes through brightest in the form of words.
It was hackneyed. It was short, but here it is. Please remember it was my first time, so be gentle with me. I just felt compelled to write about a player who held all the keys in his hand but was blocked from using them by a mixture of cruel fate and a neanderthal who injured him as his own limited talent couldn’t sustain a challenge to get close to Diaby – so he scythed him down.
Hopefully it highlights why we all hoped every season would be the season for his return.
My first ever blog regarding Abou Diaby.
May 2006, Dan Smith ( now of Blyth Spartans via Gateshead ) would perform an action that would prove to not only be the most noteworthy of his career, but also blight a talent that was aimed toward the higher echelons of the game.
Vassiriki Abou Diaby graduated from Clairefontaine in 2002, the famed football talent academy that flowered Nicolas Anelka, William Gallas and Thierry Henry to name a few, and went on to make 14 appearances for Auxerre. While not exactly cementing his place in Manager Guy Roux’ thoughts, it proved enough for Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger to plough £2m into Auxerres coffers. Diaby made 16 appearances before Mr Smith of Sunderland sparked fury among not only Arsenal fans, but Wenger himself ( who threatened legal action ) with his late attempt to obtain possession.
Diaby became familiar with the physio table, making 13 starts at the tail end of the 2006-07 season, gingerly getting towards match fitness whilst not showing the promise that Wenger saw to persuade him to prise him away from France.
2007-08, 21 starts.
2008-09, 25 starts.
2009-10 was Diabys’ breakthrough season. He made 34 starts in total, 4 from the bench whilst chipping in with 7 goals and 5 assists. He caught the eye of the fans who now still have faith in his return, melding an eye for defensive cover with an ability to ghost past opponents that belied his gangly frame. Comparisons inevitably were made with another name synonymous with Arsenal, Patrick Vieira. Many thought that, with an extended run in the team and with more maturity to blot out a tendency to lose concentration, he could well become a lynchpin not only in the Gunners midfield, but also add to his caps for his country. Many other pundits and those who had seen Diaby at work often would say he was more talented than Vieira, his close ball control and eye for a defence splitting pass rather than Vieiras’ buccaneering style and box-to-box dynamism requiring a slightly defter touch. This season showed that Diaby was becoming what Arsene saw in flashes.
2010-11, 23 starts.
A catalogue of strains, tears and suspensions followed, but, in the infamous 4-4 draw Vs Newcastle, in which Diaby started, played in the half hour it took for Arsenal to pile up a four goal lead and then get sent off after an altercation with the squeaky-clean Joey Barton, it showed his importance to the equilibrium of his side as the Toon clawed back four goals to earn a draw in one of the most memorable comebacks in recent memory.
This season has seen two appearances as substitute, Vs Fulham and Dortmund, each one heralding more optimism but ultimately turning out to be a false dawn as a bout with Colin Lewin ( Arsenal physio ) followed. Now, on the 2nd of March 2012, we had the news from Le Professeur that had most Gooners thought they wouldn’t hear. Diaby was fully fit.
Bitter fans pointed out that it must be time to earn a new contract at the club but mostly social networks were awash with positivity, that finally this would see the extended run in the side that Diaby needs.
The next match is Vs Liverpool at Anfield on the 3rd of March. Aaron Ramsey is injured, Wilshere is still some weeks away from a first team return and Denilson is currently bronzing himself on a Sao Paolo beach. Like on the 10th of Feb 2010, hopefully it will be a 1-0 win, with Diaby scoring the winner, fairytales do happen, just ask Thierry Henry about his recent loan spell.