Abou Diaby and Jack Wilshere. Imagine Arsene Wenger announcing that pair as January signings. Wilshere is, of course, priceless, and Abou if he stays fit, in team terms, will be in that bracket too.
It has taken Jack a few months to return to his best. Abou Diaby must be given the same time and patience by the fans. I sensed in the stadium against Swansea that he will get both.
He was far from his best, still rusty, and it was no surprise that the odd pass went astray. As with Jack on his return, the burst away from opponents is not back yet. Then again how many players at possibly 60% of potential could play the game with such ease? He cruised around the pitch against Swansea looking more and more comfortable and composed.
The first half was poor from the whole team. Wilshere was an honourable exception but Diaby stood out too for his physical power as much as his skill on the ball.
The loss of Song at start of the season was a huge blow to the team. There is a story to be told there and I await the Wenger autobiography with interest. Why would he let him go? The answer, of course, MAY be as simple as a gamble on the fitness of Abou Diaby.
If that is the case, against the ‘Swans’ in the cup, you could see why Arsene was tempted to take that gamble. In the second half in particular he was pivotal; the foundation upon which the much improved performance was built. He was ably assisted by Coquelin who himself grew stronger as the game progressed.
I suspect we will see more of that double act from now on. To make it work Diaby needs to stay fit, get stronger and find his old ability to go past people to open gaps and create the space for those around him.
I said at the beginning of the season that Diaby ‘was the single most talented player at the club’. Perhaps I should have put Jack Wilshere in there as well! But the point was well made. If we can keep Diaby fit put a Ramsey or a Coquelin alongside him we will start to dominate games again. And once we do that we know that the talent is there to hurt teams.
Wilshere’s return has been nothing short of sensational all things considered but let’s not lose sight of the value of the big Frenchman, I know Arsene Wenger won’t!