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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Diaby is six foot two inches!

With the immense Patrick Vieira and hugely underrated Edu leaving Highbury last summer, it is with some urgency that Arsene Wenger needed extra CM back-up to Fabregas, Flamini and Gilberto.

So it is good news that Arsenal - according to breaking news reports - has signed the 19 year old Auxerre central midfielder Vassiriki Abou Diaby in a four-year deal.

The L'equipe website says he is 1 metre 88 cms. This is fantastic because Arsenal has desperately lacked a central midfielder with natural physical presence this season.

He won the European Under 19 Championships with France last summer which means he has the same pedigree as Phillipe Senderos.

And as he has been schooled in the French youth international set-up, plus at Auxerre, it is fair to conclude he should be a highly technical player as well as having a good physical presence.

After the Portsmouth match, Arsene Wenger made these analytical comments about Mathieu Flamini:

"Mathieu is more of a mobile player than an impact player. He would benefit from the pitch being 10 yards longer and wider because he can run unbelievably well. Vieira was more an impact player. Every fight was better for him and he won the ball. On a short pitch and squeezed pitch like we have at Highbury you need to be an impact player or have really quick technique."

I hope Wenger has bought Diaby because he has the attributes to be a successor to Pat in the sense of being an 'impact player' with excellent physical power and high technical ability. If he does meet this description, it will just be what AFC has been looking for.

I look forward to seeing Diaby in action and the exact potential that he has. If anyone has seen him play in Ligue One or in last summer's Under 19 European Championships it will be great to have your opinion on him.

P.S. Found this comment on Diaby from Amy Lawrence of the Observer in her analysis of the victorious French Under 19's:

"Arsene Wenger would be crazy not to snap up Vassariki Diaby, who did an outstanding impression of a young Patrick Vieira."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw him in the final against England and he was outstanding, like a more attacking version of Vieira, he was dribbling, crossing and basically dominating, obviously this was against other 19 year olds though

1/13/2006 12:03 am

Blogger anish said...

Finally, I was growing quite impatient that Wenger hadn't signed anyone yet. I hope Diaby settles down quickly, because that's what Arsenal need. They need him now, not 5 years later. I wonder when Wenger debut's him, but before that lets wait for a confirmation from Wenger that he has signed for sure!

And yes lets also hope that we find a new Viera in him!

1/13/2006 8:12 am

Blogger anish said...

I just came across on BBC Sport that Arsenal might sign 16yr old Walcott from saints for a staggering 16 million quid. And guess who is competing with the gunners to buy him? Yes Chelsea! It seems that whoever Wenger wants, Mourinho wants. It seems Chelsea just want to frustrate the gunners.I read that Mourinho was after Diaby too. But both Diaby and Walcott prefer Arsenal. Lets hope Walcott makes it Ashburton grove, considering the fact that he most likey wont play at highbury!

Btw, T, great work on the Diaby article, great analysis. I completely agree with your conclusions.

1/13/2006 8:23 am

Blogger T said...

Thanx anon and Anish.

I would love AFC to come out and confirm the deal is done.

Anon, I like the use of the word 'dominating'... this is what I hope Diaby can bring to the midfield in the years to come.

Agree Anish that it would be great if he can make an instant impact. But more important is that he has the potential to be one of the world's best in the years to come. This is what I am looking forward to seeing with my own eyes... provided he does indeed sign for AFC!

1/13/2006 1:33 pm

Anonymous Lost Key said...

As it is premiership, at 19, i don't think he will create instant impact.
Excellence signing for the future, though.

1/13/2006 1:50 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

I agree with 'lost key', excellent prospect is Theo Walcott but I think he should remain in the Championship a while longer before joining big teams like Arsenal or indeed Chelsea, or the Premiership in general. Then again, I probably would have said the same about Rooney and he waited for no one! But Walcott seems to me to possibly need another season with Southampton, and I hear there's the possibility of a buy for Arsenal and then a loan back to St Mary's, which is more sensible.

Anish - I read too that Mourinho has shown interest in Diaby and Walcott, and I know T has written on Mourinho chasing Arsenal's transfer targets but I would take compliment from that, and if these reports are anything to go by, it seems that Arsenal are not resigning to losing out on Walcott whatsoever!!


1/13/2006 2:45 pm

Blogger T said...

Redsman, I think Lost Key was referring to Diaby?

It's like Christmas and birthday's rolled into one for AFC fans who did not expect January transfer buys- like myself.

Arsenal have sealed the signing of Diaby whose description by Wenger makes me very excited by the qualities he brings to the team. He sounds like the 'impact' player that I was hoping for.

From Monaco they have signed the Kanu look-a-like, Adebayor, who will definitely give us more options up front.

And if we can sign Walcott then I will be over the moon! Apart from his supreme talent and lightning speed, what I really like about him is his mindset. I've heard him speak and he is evidently level-headed. His demeanour on the pitch solidifies that impression. And finally, I heard his dad on the radio a couple of months ago and I was very impressed with how he spoke and what he said about guiding his son.

To have world class potential is great- but to have a great mindset means you have an outstanding chance of reaching the very top!

Redsman, you are right that AFC are pulling out all the stops. If you visit you will see a story about Wenger's admiration for Walcott and wish to bring him to AFC. This is unprecendented because the site NEVER carries stories about speculation.

The Independent reports a source that says a deal is 80% done and should be finalised on Monday... we'll wait and see!

Boy, these are exciting time for AFC fans who have not seen such a level of transfer activity since the summer of 2001.

1/14/2006 11:14 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

Yep, sorry, that comma was meant to be a full stop, I agreed with 'lost key' on Diaby, and went on to speak about Walcott. Apologies for not making that clearer.


1/14/2006 8:10 pm

Anonymous Lost Key said...

Finally they went riot yesterday - 7 goals against Boro.

1/15/2006 3:08 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Albeit a younger inferior Boro side missing the experience of Ehiogu and Southgate in central defence. The proverbial lambs to the slaughter.


1/16/2006 1:20 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

GunnerPete says...thanks again Redsman for trying to devalue the 7-0 win against this young untied Boro team. I feel I must point out that we have not had a full team since the start of the season inc Saturday! I would love to see the likes of Chelski, Manure & The Pool, stay up there with a constant six top stars out for half a season. Saturday with Cole back...we still missed Campbell, Van Persie, Bergkamp, Toure, Ebuoe, Clichy and still won. If the Pool ever loses Gerrard for a long period ie: like Henry, Cole, Campbell, Freddy, for months..they would be fighting relegation or as usual buying another £40 millions worth, AND they will not sell one of their stars (Viera) to pay for fund it !

1/16/2006 10:44 am

Blogger T said...

Thanx Redsman and Lost Key.

I always value your comments GunnerPete, but this time you are wide of the mark to criticise Redsman who I know - through many years of friendship and loads of football-related discussions - is totally fair about the achievements of other teams and certainly does not seek to devalue the achievements of AFC.

As for Saturday, Boro's defence was extremely inexperienced- and I was happy that we took full advantage of it!

1/16/2006 12:42 pm

Anonymous Nturtle said...

Great piece on Diaby T. I think the 7-0 win had many reasons..and sometimes...AFC get some luck and of course are on form!!

I will take what T has said on Walcott, and really translate that into what the team did at Boro. Was it the extra pressure of new boys joining? Was it Henry's committment and uninhibited display? Was it committment by the TEAM (Pires and Ljungberg in particular) coming to the fore? I just wish our players THOUGHT about these things more...and get their mindset right for ALL games!!

Hard to criticise Boro's youngsters when you have such precision passing and free kicks to create the goals. I do feel sorry for Brad Gilbert's debut as Boro keeper...he didn't really do too much wrong (maybe he could have stopped Gilberto's goal) but just damned unlucky to see Arsenal on one of their ON days.

I just hope the new signings really inject some urgency into the squad. Maybe they DO realise that they can't take their places for granted! Maybe they realise that that these two TALL blokes could be serious contenders for first team players...and they needed to show their stuff. With the exception of Gilberto, I think everybody really got he's the one I would sacrifice if I were playing PES5...uh...sorry...manager of AFC...

Finally...I must say...Walcott excites me terribly and I love his attitude like T says. But he might have a way to go to match Henry's touch and skill on display at Boro...the king is dead...long live...etc!!


1/17/2006 7:32 am

Blogger T said...

Great comments Nturtle!

I reckon you are spot on about Arsenal's collective mindset for the first half of the season being way off. I put it down to four core reasons:

- the s-term shock of losing Vieira
- the dominance of Chelsea flying away at the top of the league
- AFC'S (probably) best ever player not committing his future to the club- and the fear encompassed in that that the club could be on a major slide as a result
- injuries to experienced players like TH, Sol, Cole, Freddie... compounding the loss of Pat.

The club were well due in requiring a major lift- and in the space of a week it got three of them!

TH committed himself to stay -provided the board can persuade him of their intentions for the club; Cole has made his comeback- which will significantly improve both the defence and the attack; and new players are coming in to bolster the squad - including a potential straight Vieira replacement.

To seal the signing of Walcott would round things off perfectly!

1/17/2006 12:33 pm

Anonymous Nturtle said...

Thanks T - I think your list goes a long way to explain things...but certainly these blokes at AFC who are paid our yearly wage EVERY WEEK need to get moving again!

Hopefully this impetus really spurs them all on...and no lapses in concentration affect us over the course of the first few months of this year, with particularly important games against Wigan (to give the young ones a few more games to prove themselves), Bolton (our Bogey team this season) and of course Real Madrid (who countered our 7-0 with a 4-2 win and Zidane's hatrick)!

Too much whispering on thie Walcott business...sounding like Baptista more and more!! HA! But hopefully it is not of course...and in reality the situation is very different.

If you didn't see the Henry "Trick" you better download this...(valid for 7 days)...

1/18/2006 8:34 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

I agree with T (17th, 12.33pm) that Arsenal had to deal with being slightly unfocused due to those four reasons mentioned, and that they received three major boosts to help them do just that. Quite a tonic.

But I need to go back. GunnerPete, I've valued your comments on EFT and am offended you felt the need to speak out as you have (16th, 10.44am). T has correctly stated my stance when stating opinion on any club, including my own, and I've never undermined Arsenal unless I felt I had sufficient grounds to do so, and even then it wouldn't be undermining but an intent to state a fair and honest impartial opinion based on my own observations. EFT states on its homepage "EFT operates a 'respect your opponent' policy in keeping with the masters of the game."

When I mentioned my comments (16th, 1.20am), it was to highlight Boro's preparations against a side who are renowned for taking apart many Premiership teams who field 11 experienced players alone, much less that presented by Boro. Boro were less equiped than usual and it was a disadvantage to them, as the scoreline showed. It was also a disadvantage that Steve McClaren was aware of and he didn't make too much of his side's performance, in fairness to him, saying he spoke to the youngsters and said to them they will be better players in learning from the experience. My words were not intended to undermine Arsenal.

Liverpool have had a history of the inconvenience of injured players which has hampered our progress in the top flight for many years, partly the reason why we have failed to hold some consistency for many seasons, so you are wrong to speak as if we have not experienced missing key players. You speak of Gerrard's hypothetical absence leading to us fighting relegation or the expenditure of £40m on players, presumably as a result. This was ill-advised too. Liverpool had begun this season with Gerrard mostly present during our first eight games and struggled to emerge up the table, languishing around the 12th/13th/14th positions following four draws, two losses, two wins, so it is not clear we progress all the time with Gerrard playing. The media had previously labelled Liverpool as a one-man team behind Michael Owen but then found they couldn't do that anymore when he left and now turn to using Gerrard's name. With Gerrard and his abilities, Benitez has seeked to form a strategic base of play around those abilities, and our side feed of his movements.

I recall Gerrard was absent from the home Champions League tie against Bayer Leverkusen last season, absent from the Super Cup win against CSKA Moscow, and he was absent during those first eight games from the Blackburn and Fulham games and we had to adapt, showing that we can do so with Hamann, Alonso and Sissoko. Clearly we didn't need to spend £40m.

To associate Liverpool with relegation was also an absurd notion. Had I stated such a circumstance featuring Arsenal, not only would I be insulting to colleague T, and other Arsenal fans, I would be locked up indefinitely!

As for selling our star players, if the need is necessary it is not a problem. The Arsenal board must have felt it necessary to sell Vieira why they released him. We haven't recently but in the case of Owen, we had to accept his desire to leave, likewise where Gerrard almost left to join Chelsea. No club would want to sell star players unless necessary to do so and Liverpool is no exception. Your comments on this point appear to instigate we would use other means of raising the finance to fund player purchases, if not through the sale of star players. I would like you to elaborate exactly what you meant.


1/18/2006 6:12 pm


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