Injuries have long been a factor in Arsenal’s inability to mount a serious title challenge.
It is difficult to remember the last season in which Arsenal have succeeded in keeping all their key men injury-free. The club have attempted to rectify the situation with alternative training methods, the introduction of new coaches, the renovation of the training pitch and the adaption of player’s diets and off-season routines.
However, Arsenal still continually fall foul of lady luck. The club affirm there is no underlying issue with the players they recruit nor the methods they practice. Yet can Arsenal’s injury record really be simply a case of bad luck?
Arsenal fans are accustomed to seeing their finest players rehomed in the treatment room but there are some players who seem unluckier than others:
1. Abou Diaby
Woody Allen once said, “My luck is getting worse and worse. Last night, for instance, I was mugged by a quaker.” I have a feeling if Abou Diaby was a 1950s American comedy fan, he would find something to relate to in this quote.
Playing magnificent football against a fairly poor Sunderland side, Abou Diaby was tackled by telephone sales rep, Dan Smith. As a result, Diaby suffered a fractured ankle and ruptured ankle ligaments. The tackle was horrendous. Diaby missed the next eight months of his career.
Abou Diaby was a fantastic young player to watch.
He was strong in the tackle, his wiry frame had an unexpected elegance in its stride, his close control was unbecoming for a man of his size and his passing was neat and precise.
At a young age, there was genuine excitement over a young, French midfielder who could have gone on to become a great player in his own right.
However, with that first tackle, Diaby’s body never fully recovered. Wenger kept faith with the young man for several years, even granting the midfielder a new contract in 2010.
However, in 2015, nine years after he first moved to Arsenal with a grand total of 125 appearances, Wenger had to accept that Diaby was never going to fulfil his potential at Arsenal and needed a fresh challenge.
Since then, Diaby’s struggles have continued.
He gained a contract at Marseille but has only made a hatful of appearances in the two years he has been there. He’s now been released.
For a young man who was so elusive to his opponent’s tight marking and attempts to dispossess him, it is football that has remained elusive to him.