Diaby would be REALLY good, if Fab left.

With Diaby potentially on his way back for this weekend’s the trip to liverpoor, I’m preparing for the collective stroke from the gooner faithful.  He’s the 2009/10 whipping boy.  But is he truly that horrible?  The fact is, the young man raises more questions about Arsene’s “tactics” than he does about himself (injuries aside).  Sadly, Diaby might need to leave the Arsenal, because he doesn’t match Fab.  A real loss for the Arsenal.

Lets get a couple things out of the way first so that we can get to the good stuff.  First, Diaby is a very very good young player already playing at a highest level.  Furthermore, he has great potential.  It’s true.  That’s why he’s wanted on the national team as well.  Second, Diaby is an attacking midfielder that trained as a forward.  He is not a box-to-box midfielder.  He is not the next Viera and he does not want to be.  The truth is he’s playing in the wrong formation with the Arsenal’s current talent pool, or worse he’s just on the wrong team.

A truly talented player can play any position on the pitch.  But just because they can play any position doesn’t mean they should.  Fab (or Arshavin for that matter) can play a central-striker, but excels in the midfield.  RVP comes back on defense, but is a far better striker, and so forth.

In Diaby’s case, he’s a very good attacking midfielder (forward even) that is asked to play a midfield enforcer, a la Viera.  Frankly, he’s not good at this role and Arsene keeps trying to develop his game there.  The fact that he plays it at all is a testament to his talent.  The problem, however, is that Diaby doesn’t excel when playing with Fab.  And this means we have a balance problem, which in turn keeps us slightly unhinged against other teams.

The Arsenal’s chemistry problems started to become apparent to the lay fan during the Wigan game I think.  When Diaby left and Ramsey entered the Arsenal engine began to kick in.  This wasn’t because Diaby is bad, it’s because he and Fab don’t play well together.  Put it this way, if Fab had left and Ramsey entered, the Arsenal engine would have kicked in as well -albeit with less power.  Why? Because Fab and Diaby are a bad mix.

Put another way, Arsene has too very talented central attacking midfielders and doesn’t want to lose either of them.  A creation of his own design, the professor has gone attacking midfielder happy and now he’s overloaded.  This is the dilemma Arsene is facing, well that and injuries.  But it’s an interesting predicament. So why does Arsene insist on playing Diaby?

It’s a question of personnel, rotation and the competition.  In the 4-3-3, we need someone to link Song with Fab.  This is Denilson’s role, but he still isn’t quite the power midfielder we need.  Frankly, Diaby is the best person to fill this role right now.  Neither Ramsey nor Fran are ready to make the step up.  So, until we can get someone with Diaby’s physical presence and skill, we’re stuck with a Diaby-Denilson rotation.  Side note: this is where buying Matuidi and Sissoko or Capua would alter the equation.  Alas. Sigh.

If it helps, think about it this way.  Imagine we sold Fab, bought Melo and switched to a 4-4-2.  A Melo-Diaby midfield is big and powerful.  Diaby can charge forward all he wants.  And our backfield is okay because we have Melo holding the line and dictating play.  All of a sudden, Diaby is freed to leverage his strengths -pushing forward, battering down defenders and opening space for the wingers (Nasri and Arshavin).

My point is, aside from his injuries, the “problem” with Diaby is Fab and the 4-3-3.  A lot of players have sacrificed to make this Fab’s team.  The next logical question then, is whether Diaby should go, if only for his own development.  Should Arsene bring in a new midfielder, the answer is yes. If the Arsenal purchase another midfielder someone must go; and, a new purchase threatens Ramsey, Fran, Denilson and Diaby.  Given this scenario, however, Diaby is the most vulnerable.  He fits the least.  Sadly, Diaby is a good player and I want to see him succeed but to do so, he might just need to go to a new team or Fab needs to leave.

-the student

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