One of the most noticeable points in the improvement and development of Arsenal's squad from last season to now is the extended depth that has been implemented into the young Gunners side. The 2009/2010 campaign saw injuries decimate the Arsenal starting side with long-term injuries to the likes Robin van Persie, Johan Djourou, Samir Nasri and Kieran Gibbs throughout the season.
However, Arsene Wenger's men failed to cope with the health hazard as lack of depth became evident throughout the campaign. The back line was heavily reliant on the service of Thomas Vermaelen after Wenger allowed the Gunners to boast a frail centre half rotation were experienced French defenders William Gallas and Mikael Silvestre were primary defenders despite struggling to play strongly in the EPL.
The deteriorating back line, along with a number of young guns still developing and gaining experience, was eventually bustled over by the steaming giants of Chelsea and Manchester United as Arsenal ended their fifth successive season without silverware.
This season has witness a rejuvenated, stronger Arsenal that is considerably stronger thanks to the growth of a number of young players. The emergence of teenage sensation Jack Wilshere has been a joy to watch for world football, whilst the newfound consistency and confidence of French playmaker Samir Nasri, Swiss defender Johan Djourou and of course keepers Wojciech Szczensy and Lukasz Fabianski has signified that Arsenal are completely different and formidable side than 2009/2010.
Yes, on paper the Gunners easily boast one of the strongest, clinical squads in England and Europe. The glaring depth in the midfield is an impressive sight. However, as an injury-stricken Arsenal encountered Sunderland yesterday, the Gunners' midfield depth failed to make their presence felt as Arsene Wenger's men rued miss opportunities in a goalless draw.
In what was a superb chance for second-place Arsenal to reduce the gap between leaders Manchester United to a mere point, the Gunners were without a host of key players including captain and midfield maestro Cesc Fabregas, vice captain Robin van Persie, defensive midfielder Alexandre Song and inform dynamo Theo Walcott.
Although the injuries ensured a massive dent in the fluid Arsenal attack, the sufficient depth enabled the North London giants to boast an imposing line up.
The midfield had been particularly distraught with key injuries but Fabregas's replacement Abou Diaby and Song's, Denilson, boasted a wealth of experience and quality. Both haven't enjoyed the strongest of seasons with the Gunners but have contributed solidly when necessary.
The pair have also been guilty of some poor performances too as the Arsenal faithful have begun to grow increasingly annoyed. However, Sunderland posed the adequate opportunity to remind the fans and Wenger of their capabilities, and play an integral role in Arsenal's potential EPL success.
Unfortunately, like the scoreline, no impact was made by either of the midfielders as they were unable to conjure up any midfield mayhem. In fact, both Diaby and Denilson were guilty of astray passing and lacklustre defending.
It raised the question, just how long do the pair have left at the Emirates?
In what is already a packed midfield, Wenger recently welcomed back young superstar Aaron Ramsey from a one month loan spell with former club Cardiff City. The Welshman has endured two loan spells this season as he attempts to recuperate from his horrific leg break suffered last season.
Wenger also has other boom youngsters returning from loan spells at the end of the season. Englishman Henri Lansbury, who is held in the highest regard by Wenger and is touted as a future star, has had a stellar period so far with Championship side Norwich City. French defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin has impressed with Lorient FC and is also touted as a future Arsenal star.
Twenty-year-old Craig Eastmond has also been impressive with Milwall in the Championship and the Englishman has already played in the Premier League and UEFA Champions League. Furthermore forgotten midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong, who was set for a big season with the first team before a cruciate ligament injury days before his debut intervened, returns in the coming weeks.
Who Will Be Sold?
That said, it is unlikely with the form that the pair have conveyed this season and the already stated pack midfield, Wenger will be inclined to offload a midfielder with Abou Diaby and Denilson the likely candidates.
It is almost certain Wenger will not sell two midfielding giants but it is likely one could be sold.
Denilson has rarely been a fan favourite at the Emirates in recent seasons but the Samba star is only 23 and boasts great experience in all of competitions, having been at the Gunners since 2006. However, the Brazilian has only made 24 appearances this season, seldom impressing. Predominantly utilized as a defensive midfielder, there are a number of budding youngsters waiting in line, which could signify the former Sao Paulo man's end.
Diaby, on the other hand, has had a relatively anonymous injury-stricken season with the 24-year-old's highlight a rash shove on Joey Barton that resulted in the Frenchman's straight red. Diaby's brain snap played an influential role in Newcastle securing one of the greatest come backs in EPL history when they came back from 4-0 down to draw 4-4.
The former Auxerre man, who was once touted as the next Patrick Vieira, will need to have a strong finish to his season if things are to improve for Abou Diaby.
So will the upcoming English summer see the departure of Abou Diaby or Denilson, or neither?