Arsene Wenger has played up the absence of Abou Diaby as a crucial factor in Arsenal’s form this season, admitting that the lanky French midfielder gives his team balance.
Many eyebrows were raised when the club sold Alex Song to Barcelona, leaving the injury-prone Diaby as the only likely replacement, but the 26-year-old started the season strongly.
Wenger feels the team is missing his physical presence, and that he regrets the bad luck he has had with injuries.
Speaking to the Mirror, he said:
“It is frustrating as we started very well with him and since he has moved out we have felt that. He balances our team as he has stature and presence physically and we are quite small in midfield and when he is there, it gives us something different.
“I can tell you as he has been everywhere in the world to be assessed. There is an explanation that he is quick, strong, has good stamina, good resistance to repeat, but his muscle strength is not good enough to deal with that.
“The muscle is pushed to the extreme and his individual fibres are not strong enough. Then sometimes little fibres go. That is basically his problem.
“When you play every three days, you cannot rebuild your strength, as you need to recover. When you don’t rebuild your strength, through the games you burn your fibres a bit and become weaker and weaker, so that means he gets injured.”
As good a player as Diaby can be, if Wenger knows this about his fitness then he really should have signed someone else as cover. Diaby (and others) have sufficiently bad injury records that he should have known not to rely on them for a whole season.
Can’t deny that we’re missing him though. Or at least a player of that physical stature. Thankfully January isn’t too far away…
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