The Mannequin Called Abou Diaby

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The Mannequin Called Abou Diaby
(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

They say a picture says a thousand words. I am not certain about that, but in the case of the above picture, the saying does provide a lot of proof.

This is a picture of Arsenal Gallic midfielder Abou Diaby, a name so exotic, you would expect the player to be just the same. When he first came to London, the young french man from Auxere was touted to be something akin to a Viera clone.

However, if anything, he has turned to be anything but. In fact, I would venture and call him a Viera Lite. The picture above illustrates all that is good about Diaby, tall, well built, long legs, beautiful ball control, magnificent dribbler.

This means that he ought to be both an aerial threat for set pieces and an imposing defender for set pieces. It means that for the EPL, body wise, he came in as a ready made material, his long legs afforded him easier and better than average ball control and the ability to beat his man to the ball first and of course being french he was typical excellent dribbler.

All this and you had the makings of a world beater. The recent announcement by Arsenal that Samir Nasri is back and ready for contention for the first team has ignited the debate of whom should Arsene Wenger bench.

Nasri is yet another french player destined for a great fuure in the game and with Arsene Wenger as his mentor has a better than average chance to be a superstar like his french mates. While Nasri's return is great news, whose place is should he take? I, for one, have stated that Abou Diaby should be benched. In all the articles I have read and commented on, I have resisted calling him rubbish and useless.

I believe that for all his hype and talents, Diaby simply refuses to improve and move a gear up in his development. Now, I also understand that he has been a victim of some seriously unlucky injuries, but that is not enough for him to be performing he has been.

For many Arsenal fans, Diaby is simply too inconsistent, which means that you cannot really rely on him. The scary thing is that you just don't know which Diaby will be on the pitch in an important game.

While he is capable of dishing out magnificent performances a la Roma game in the Champions' League, he is more than capable of following that with a howler like the Fulham game. So are fans justified in crucifying him?

Yes, consider this: Arsenal has an anomaly of a squad, with the team blessed with little magicians like Ashavin, Van Persie, Cesc, Nasri, and Roscky. The team also has Bendtner and Eboue. Arsenal fans aren't that naive to expect everyone to be a dazzling player, but what they do want is that IN SPITE of your limitations, a player should demonstrate desire to improve.

Eboue and Bendtner are two perfect examples. Both vilified throughout their Emirates careers and yet, in spite of their limitations, in spite of their unexciting games, fans have grown to appreciate them. Why? Dedication and desire and improvement year on year. I would be hard pressed to say that Diaby has improved significantly since he first arrived.

If anything, I might even go on to state that, with his rich talent and all the qualities that he has, Abou V. Diaby has regressed considerably. The question now is what to do with him. Undoubtedly a marvellously talented lad but a lethargic, aloof player at the best of times.

Would a loan move help? I doubt. I would rather have him on the bench and deployed him a destroyer in tight games where midfield is under pressure and never start a game unless it's a dead rubber.

Food for thought: You are one nil-one down in championship decider and you need a point to win the title. Ten minutes to go and with one substitute to make, on the bench you have Diaby, Eboue, and Bendtner, which do you put in?

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