Who should replace Diaby in the midfield? by AM
So, just when it was looking as if Abou Diaby would fulfill his potential and elevate Arsenal as genuine title contenders, his injury woes have struck again and this time he will miss the action for three weeks. Now the question that pops up is – who will replace Diaby in the midfield?
The French international is such a unique midfielder that it is hard to find his replacement in the Arsenal squad. In fact, Wenger won’t be able to make any ‘like for like’ change to the starting line-up. Arsene Wenger does have a lot of options in the midfield, but none can provide the physical presence that Diaby does, and more importantly none of the other midfielders can defend aerial balls and set pieces as the Frenchman does.
Let us now take a look into the options that Arsene Wenger has –
When Arsenal demolished Southampton 6-1 this season, Abou Diaby was not in the starting eleven. Francis Coquelin replaced him in the midfield, alongside Mikel Arteta. Coquelin is still young, but is someone with huge potential. Although perhaps he is still too raw to make regular starts, he can be a good substitute for Diaby in the midfield at the moment. He is good defensively and exciting going forward as well. Also, any playing time will be good for his own progress.
But while playing alongside Arteta, his main responsibility could be to defend. That would allow the Spaniard to move forward. So Arteta’s role might change from what he normally performs when Diaby is playing alongside him. The former Everton man will push a lot higher up the pitch, to become the connection between the defense and the attack, while he leaves most of the defending responsibilities to Coquelin.
The other option that Arsenal have at the moment is Aaron Ramsey. The midfielder has started this season brightly and looks like he is finally recovering from the mental scar of his horrific injury. Ramsey would be a interesting option, considering he is a different type of player to Coquelin. The Welshman is not defensively as capable as Coquelin is, but he can certainly provide the driving runs that Arsenal would be missing with Diaby out injured. If Ramsey plays, Arteta will have to drop deep, back to the position where he plays alongside Diaby.
Having Ramsey ahead of Coquelin will mean Arsenal will be weaker defensively, but the team will flourish while attacking. Arteta is at his best when he controls play from deep, if he is forced to play up the field (in case Coquelin is picked), it will reduce the Spaniards’ influence on the match. When Arteta plays deep, he has more time on the ball, something which he will miss if moved up the field. So, for me, Ramsey is a better option than Coquelin, specially keeping Arteta’s effectiveness in the deep role in mind. Maybe Wenger will go for Ramsey at home to Olympiakos and Coquelin away to West Ham on Saturday.
Jack Wilshere would have been the natural replacement for Diaby, but the Englishman is still not fit enough to feature in the first team and Arsene Wenger is unlikely to take any risk with him. Similarly, Frimpong will require some more time to get back to his best.
These three weeks, will be significant in terms of Arsenal’s title challenge. This period will test the club’s depth in the squad and also its resilience. How do you think we will cope?