Not for the first time in his career, Abou Diaby is courting a mound of expectation after being named on Arsenal's bench as part of the side to take on West Brom.
Arsenal announced the news prior to their match:
As has become cliched in his injury-ravaged career at the Emirates Stadium, Diaby's return was termed by Goal.com's Wayne Veysey as "like signing a new player," another phrase his career has become fervently linked with:
Arsenal-wise, also sounds like Sagna has been passed fit & Diaby in the squad for first time this season (like signing a new player).— Wayne Veysey (@wayneveysey) May 4, 2014
The Frenchman's last Premier League appearance came more than a year ago, playing 70 minutes of a 2-0 win over Swansea City on March 16, 2013.
A talkSPORT graphic (h/t Eurosport) shows just how severe Diaby's issues with injury have been down the years, with his once gleaming potential becoming obstructed by a long line of thigh, calf, hamstring and knee problems, as well as more:
The full return come just a fortnight after the 27-year-old played 45 minutes of a 2-1 reserve team defeat to Chelsea, but today's test will be greater, should he get a run out.
The return couldn't have been timed much better in terms of positional necessity, either, with Sky Sports confirming that Aaron Ramsey would be unavailable after picking up a minor thigh injury of his own:
Arsenal will be without Aaron Ramsey for their final home game of the season due to a minor thigh problem. http://t.co/FlSiOeCaqH— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) May 4, 2014
It's also fine timing for Diaby in that the North Londoners have secured fourth spot in the Premier League and have only two games remaining in their campaign after Sunday's fixture. As such, Gunners fans will be hoping a brief spark of impact will be followed up by a summer of healthy preparation, the likes of which Diaby hasn't seen for some years.
However bright the news may be, one may not want to speak to soon on what the future holds for the anchoring midfielder as several injury returns of this sort having taken place in the eight years since he moved from Auxerre. Fans need to temper their expectations moving forward with Diaby.
For now, playing some role in the remaining few minutes of Arsenal's season will be Diaby's biggest hope, and even that may be some reason for comfort given his history.