Arsene Wenger believes Abou Diaby will continue to improve and become better and better as he features more since recovering from injury.
The unlucky Frenchman was sidelined for virtually the entirety of last season earning a handful of appearances for Arsenal, and it seemed that he finally managed to repay Wenger’s faith in the versatile midfielder at the beginning of this campaign with some fine performances in red and white.. until injury struck again.
But Diaby returned to action on Sunday after three months out, starting in place of the injured Mikel Arteta, and despite starting rather sluggishly like the rest of his team-mates, he became more involved and positive as the match progressed.
Wenger believes the 26-year-old will continue to develop and work his way back to his best soon. The senior Frenchman told Arsenal’s 0fficial website:
Diaby became stronger during the game.
I feel he was like the team. He started very slowly and became stronger in the second part of the game. I took the gamble [to replace the injured Mikel Arteta with Diaby] because I feel that it was needed. It’s good that he came through well. He will become stronger very quickly.
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The team is desperate to do well and has quality. We need to be conscious that we have quality and we have to show more authority from the start in big games. The authority comes with the confidence in your quality.
The French international also feels that a string of matches will see form return quickly after recovering from another chunky spell on the sidelines. Diaby featured for the Arsenal U21 side in midweek to gain some match fitness and sharpness, and he feels the fixture proved a useful experience, he told Arsenal.com:
It helped me because when you come back you need games and a bit of rhythm to be fully back. It was very good, and I am pleased I played in that game.
I feel good physically. Of course I have been out for a long time so I am not at my best, but importantly I did not get any reaction [against Manchester City]. This is good for the future.
I knew the day before the game that I was starting, so I just had to prepare for that. I had been out for a long time, so I did not expect to be on the pitch so quickly. But it doesn’t matter, you just need to be prepared and see how it goes.
The return of the Frenchman is timely with Arteta set to miss the rest of January and possibly the first couple weeks of February, however risking his fitness is not smart. He is incredibly injury-prone, and the reason he suffered such a lengthy spell on the sidelines this season was a result of being over played not just for Arsenal but as part of the French national side too.
However with the FA Cup match on the horizon against Swansea, it his highly likely Diaby will be rested with Francis Coquelin coming in, as one of Wenger’s eyes will be firmly on the upcoming Chelsea fixture. But overall it is good news that the lanky French international has returned to full fitness, he was instrumental in the midfield prior to his injury and it will take some time for him to adapt and get back to his former self. Let us pray he remains injury free for the rest of the season.