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Is Diaby the man to fill Arsenal’s defensive midfielder void?

| 25.09.2014

There’s nothing more puzzling in this world than trying to work out Arsenal’s transfer policy – no, not even The Sun’s cryptic crossword!

Why has Arsene Wenger not brought a striker? Why have the Gunners not bought a centre-back? Seriously, why have the north London club not bought a goalkeeper?

Those are just a few of the questions posed by Arsenal supporters, and football fans alike, in recent seasons but this year it is the addition – or lack of – a defensive midfielder that is the topic of conversation in the pubs around the Emirates Stadium.

Wenger was linked with high profile moves for Real Madrid star Sami Khedira and Sporting Lisbon’s midfield powerhouse William Carvalho but with no moves forthcoming the Gunners were left with Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini to play in the defensive midfield role.

New signing Calum Chambers has been touted as a future midfield anchorman but with a lack of depth at the back he is being used as a right back and back-up centre-half, leaving Arteta and Flamini – 32 and 30 respectively – to shield the back four.

But while many have bemoaned the decision to not strengthen that area of the squad after heavy defeats to title rivals away from home last season, has Wenger had a plan all along?

Abou Diaby returned from 18 months on the sidelines in Arsenal’s 2-1 League Cup defeat to Southampton and Wenger has revealed he is trying to turn the French star into a defensive midfielder.

“I try to transform him because he was injured. He has the physical potential to win the challenges, to face the game will be easier for him than to play back to goal with the injuries he had,” Wenger told reporters in his port-match press conference.

“I try to develop him in a deeper role. I think he can do it, he can be very interesting, has all the attributes. He must want to love it as well because he’s more of an offensive-minded player.”

If Wenger, whose team are 9/1 to win the Premier League with Ladbrokes, had revealed he did not sign Khedira or Carvalho because Diaby was coming back he would have been laughed out of town in the media and by his own fans.

There was no way he could place his trust in a man who has had more injuries than…I’m not sure he’s had more injuries than anything!

But despite the setbacks he has faced in eight years at the Emirates Stadium there is no questioning the former Auxerre star has plenty of talent and the physical attributes to play in a defensive role.

His man of the match performance against Liverpool at Anfield back in 2012 is the perfect example of what a fit Diaby could bring to this current Arsenal line-up.

And with Wenger’s experience in converting players into new positions – Lauren, Kolo Toure and the great Thierry Henry are just three examples – Diaby, should he stay fit, could be the midfield anchorman to propel Arsenal to a sustained title challenge.

Watch Abou Diaby’s man of the match performance against Liverpool from 2012:

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Oliver Yew