We might not always appreciate it but we are a pretty lucky fan base at the Arsenal. We have witnessed many top quality players over the years and obviously it depends how far back you go. In recent years at least we have had players like Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira, Santi Cazorla, Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez to name but a few. I may have forgotten a few in between, blast my selective memory.
You have to think that most players, whether they are young prospects or established players must be blessed with a certain amount of ability to get any sort of a chance at Arsenal football club. Some take to it like a duck to water and use the platform to elevate themselves to higher and higher levels, some players take a little longer to impress before it all clicks but many fall away and fail to make the grade. But it is not always about talent or ability, sometimes it is about circumstance.
I read the news about Abou Diaby being released and it brought about much sadness for me on a selfish level. While I have been lucky enough to witness some magical midfielders over the years, I am pretty confident that another has been snatched away from me.
I have read the view that Diaby has been hyped up more than his performances have shown over the years and that he was inconsistent when he was fit. No sheeet Sherlock. He came to Arsenal as a 19 year old if I remember correctly and was developing his game as all 19 year olds. Even a player like Cesc Fabregas who was always ahead of his age had yet to find his shooting boots and had plenty to learn defensively.
I don't need to tell you that constant injuries to a young footballer, especially an injury as severe as the one at Sunderland along with the Robinson and Essien assaults cause a huge disruption to a players growth.
Do you remember when Aaron Ramsey played against Cardiff in a cup game a long while back. He was bloody awful that day, compare that kid to the Ramsey of today. Remember the Alex Song at Fulham before he was dragged off at half time, compare him to the player that Barcelona, the best team in the world at the time came in and bought him to be part of their squad. There are too many examples of players making giant strides when they are fit, confident and happy.
The last time Abou Diaby had a run of games for Arsenal was in 2010 and he was consistently good alongside Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song I think. The 2010 Diaby was still nowhere near the player he would have become had he avoided such horrific luck. Which is the point often overlooked, this was a guy in the middle of his own development and progression.
When you hear players past and present such as Bacary Sagna and Serge Gnabry listing Diaby as the best player in our squad when fit then it's worth paying attention.
I am no coach, scout or anything like that but I am confident that, THE Anfield performance would have become the norm for Diaby if life had taken him in another direction. He had completed pre season, had avoided injuries until that point and was confident and that was what he pulled out of the bag. As was the way though, injury was only around the corner and the reset button was hit once more.
Whatever happens with Abou, I just hope he can find some football somewhere else so I can get a sample of what I and the rest of us have missed out on since he arrived in 2006.
Another player who has left the club is Lukas Podolski and while under very different circumstances I feel as if we have been cheated from seeing more from the German.
They say that scoring is the most difficult thing to do in football and while that may well be somewhat cliche, it is difficult to argue against. Lukas Podolski is one player who has a knack for finding the back of the net. It is not just the power he is able to get behind his shooting but his accuracy when a chance presents itself. It has meant that he has always been a big threat for all the teams he has played for, including the German national side.
So why did his career not blossom at Arsenal the way that many players do at a similar stage of their career?
Podolski was signed to replace Robin van Persie, the proof of that was shown in our first league game of that season against Sunderland where he was given the chance at centre forward, Arsène has since admitted that he planned to transform Podolski into a central striker where his lethal shooting and finishing could be utilized. It was soon apparent that Podolski was not suited to that position but the question I want to know is why could he not develop into the role?
The new Fenerbahçe striker Ryan Vin Peters or something came to Arsenal as a wide player/number 10 and worked hard to transform into a number 9. The most noticeable difference in Robert Von Picnic's game was his movement. It was clearly something he had worked extremely hard at and I wouldn't be surprised if he studied other top forwards before adding to his own game. Did Podolski have the same desire? Did he attempt to learn the role? Every time I saw him in that position he just seemed to stand stationary, usually outside of the penalty box and wait until the ball fell to him. The Dutch fella was superior technically, by some way I might add but if Podolski had behaved like a striker when other players had the ball I believe he would have been a success for us. You can just imagine a Podolski bustling dart in between a full back and centre half latching onto an Özil pass and lashing it into the roof of the net in one stride.
Players like Higuain have made careers out of having limited talent but for good movement and good finishing, alas it was just not meant to be so good luck to Lukas at Galatasaray. I hope he scores a hat trick against Fenerbahçe.