Today we review the latest injury-hit campaign of one Abou Diaby. Let's get at it!
I'm just sad about Abou Diaby. When fully fit, he's really good. He has the power and technique that Arsene Wenger loves in midfielders. He's big but svelte, and while there have been some moments that make you shake your head, he's generally been a plus. But it's the when fit part. The thing with any injured player is that it usually takes time to come back to your best when you've been out for so long; with Abou Diaby, that happens with every injury. He was very good in the opening weeks of the season--the performance against Liverpool, for example, where he ran Arsenal's midfield, but then pulled a hamstring shooting against Chelsea.
Initially he was supposed to be out for 3 weeks; he was out for 3 months. It then takes a while for Diaby to go back to being good at football and not doing silly things and displaying rust, which becomes harder to tolerate when you're mired in a tight race for 4th place. Then, of course, once Diaby started looking better, he tore his ACL, in training. He's a very good player when fit, but enough is enough; he can't be relied upon.
Abou Diaby helped make Arsenal click early in the season. As always, those of us of the more optimistic mindset got slightly excited. Maybe this is the year! Maybe finally Diaby's put his injuries behind him, gotten himself right, and is ready to be the player Arsene Wenger's always thought he could be!
It will never happen.
I'm sorry, but after this year, even after the great start and the good performances when he was actually healthy, I'm finally giving up. Abou Diaby will never contribute to Arsenal on a regular basis, and if any future plans include a level of dependence on his performances above "eh, maybe he'll be able to walk for longer than a month," they should be rejected. I love the guy to death, and it kills me to say all of that (though I'm sure not as much as it kills him to be constantly, permanently hurt), and that's why it's taken me so long to fully come to terms with this. But the last straw was ten straws ago, and the camel's back has a crocked knee. I hope he finds peace and health here or elsewhere, but nobody should count on it. Ever.
Damn, man. Damn. Like, I really dig Abou Diaby's game. A lot. I know I'm kinda in the minority here, but I thought when he was on the pitch this season he did very well (shockingly, he made 15 appearances, which feels like it's about 13 too high for him). His match at Liverpool might have been one of his finest displays in an Arsenal shirt, and I stood up for him when he was supposedly stinking up the joint during some match later on in the season that I'm far from arsed at the moment to bother looking up, since ultimately he's turned into a pleasant surprise on the squad sheet due to him refusing to stop stepping on sidewalk cracks. Or breaking mirrors, or walking under ladders, or crossing the path of black cats or whatever it is that befalls him on the regular.
Overall, he's good when healthy; he dribbles well, tackles well and would be a perfect midfield cog for an Arsene Wenger-led squad, but there's a better chance that John Terry wins any sort of humanitarian award over Abou Diaby staying healthy and appearing in 75% of matches in a season.
While my sympathy for the bad fortune of Abou Diaby is well-documented, and while I think he can be an effective player when healthy, availability and health matter. He's a good guy, and he is very talented, but at this point, I really just think Arsenal need to move on. He was okay in the matches he appeared in this year, especially against Liverpool, but as a part of a team that one has to rely on, he's not useful anymore.
While other backup midfielders probably also only appear in 15 matches a year, Diaby's lack of availability limits tactical options, to say nothing of the pay he's probably on. I wish him all the best, obviously, but I think it's just time to move on.
You know that person you dated a while back, when you were just out of college? The one that seemed really cool, and you two dated for about a year, but your heart wasn't really in it, so you ended it? It ended very civilly, but it most definitely ended - there was regret on both sides, sure, but it needed to end and it did. Then, fast forward about 10 years, and you see this person at a random thing - a grocery store, say, or a restaurant - and they have their two kids and spouse in tow, and when you go up and say hi, you learn that they have a really awesome spouse, and that life is really good for them, and you wish them well and go back to your business, all the while feeling good that you've seen this person again and also being super-happy for them in their happy life, because they deserve it.
That, in a nutshell, is Abou Diaby for me. I really, truly want things to work out, but I don't think they will; he can't stay healthy, he can't be relied on, and while that's really sad it also is a huge problem for an athlete. It may be time to cut him loose and let him find a new home, and hopefully a happy ending somewhere.
GRADE: A very sad D