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By Eddissimo!

This article was written as a response to Mean Lean's comments on Mannone but more pointedly on the Diaby/Denilson/Fickle fans debate but by the time I'd finished going on I thought it long enough to merit a wider audience. Tell me if I'm wrong! Incidentally this is the first time I've ever sat and written a whole article on the side. Subject to how this goes, I may even write more - let's wait and see:

Mean Lean - forget the keepers, Mannone had one good game and may well be good in future, and like most of our keepers of recent years he showed in the Fulham game that he is a good shot stopper. What will prove the test of time with him will be whether he is good on crosses and in the air. However he is just 21 so let's not all get too excited just yet and keep the pressure off the lad.


On Denilson/Diaby, Denilson has always been a good player in the making, and I for one have never slagged him, and in fact regularly defend him against the shouts and curses of one of the season ticket holders who sits near me. He did some great work last season, scored some important goals (the one against Villa sticks in my mind), and generally looked to be picking up where he left off after those two carling cup games three (or could it now be four!?) years ago against Spurs when he first really showed what a player he could be.

Diaby on the other hand is a different kettle of fish. It's not that he has never had a good game for us. I remember being away at Milan, sitting with the Milan fans (in silent terror I might add!) while a particularly unsavoury old racist milan fan spent the whole game berating Diaby all game for being "a big Black B@£$%@$ who should go home" (In italian obviously). The reason for this torrent of abuse was that Diaby was ripping his ageing team's defence to shreds, much to his apparent horror, most notably in the first half.

So believe me when i say I've seen him play a decent game. Unfortunately though I don't believe he is a central midfielder despite his physique. He'd no doubt be a killer 5-a-side player, with his dribbling skills and his willingness to take people on. Unfortunately he is too slow thinking though to play centre mid, where players have a fraction of the time on the ball and must make the correct choices early. In this position for arsenal he almost invariably looks a little lost, gives the ball away too much and is late to spot passes, putting his teammates under more pressure.

I believe he could make a half decent foraging winger (in the Kuyt mould) Where he can use the extra space to his advantage to surge forward and take players on. Unfortunately though I'm not sure given the array of talent in those positions in our team that he would be able to break in to the side there.

In central midfield though he is a liability (unlike Denilson!), and the number of times he loses the ball or slows down attacks by dribbling in circles rather than releasing early passes more than outweigh the advantage his extra height gives in terms of 'defending set pieces'. If he is to play I for one would rather see that height used as an outlet against tiny full backs, rather liker Wenger has started to do with Bendtner wide on the right (though the jury is still out on that particular temporary position shift).

For those that believe Diaby will somehow become the team's new defensive midfield sensation I fear that's never going to come true. His lack of concentration, sluggish pace of thought and his failure to chase back all will cost the team, put extra burden on the other midfielders and generally harm our usually fluid style of play. If Diaby is to play, let him be a winger. If he's not the greatest crosser of the ball, let him play on the left where he can cut in and shoot on his stronger foot. Frankly though when all our players are fit I just don't see a place for him in the team other than on the bench.

I can't help but think (or is that hope?!) though that Wenger is simply getting him in a few games to keep him happy before the likes of Nasri, Denilson, Theo, Rosicky and others all come back full time to limit his chances in the team. Here's hoping.


It is true that some of those commenting on the net do seem a bit bi-polar when it comes to supporting the team - one minute they're heroes the next villains. Yet everyone has their favourites and the players whose backs they get on even if they have the games of their lives. It's not fair, and maybe it's not right, but hopefully most of our players have better things to do than trawl the message boards for mentions of themselves.
Even for those that do, there is a way back - look at Eboue. I still hate the fact that he dives all the time, and he's not the greatest player in the side but he has earnt my respect for coming back from last season's Wigan game, applying himself and improving (yes, IMPROVING, for anyone that waasn't at the Wigan game this season) in his new position. I don't believe he's ever going to be Garrincha, but he's certainly not Eddie McGoldrick either, and the way he has come back and applied himself in the face of adversity should be a lesson to any youngsters in the game.

What I don't like is the broad use of the few who are like this to tar the rest. Yes, many people (wrongly in my view) berated Denilson all last season. There were also those who did the same for Ade post new contract, for Eboue post being put on the wing, and, in earlier days for the likes of Campbell and Grimandi. They made their opinions known right or wrong, just as the rational do, but just because you do rate a player it's not reasonable to say those that don't are just the foaming at the mouth mad hating fringe. We are all wrong sometimes.


Coming back to Eboue, I was one of the many fans that day last season who did NOT boo him off while others around me did, however I do believe that those fans who did have that right. Ultimately you support the team through thick and thin but the fans took their one opportunity to let the boss know what they thought in the same way that they regularly take the opportunity to sing 'There's only one Arsene Wenger' etc. supporting is a two way street and the fans should be able to voice their discontent, its just sad that it was directed at one individual and not at the team/manager as a whole.

As Arsenal fans we have been very, very privileged in the last 20 years to have seen a largely winning team but for anyone who has ever been to less fortunate clubs grounds, it is often normal to hear fans hurling abuse at players and manager. We should be grateful that we have been so fortunate that it is a media talking point when we are doing the same. At the same time though that should not stifle reasonable debate. Rant out!

Mean Lean's Response

Thank you Eddissimo for your balanced and somewhat constructive piece, I much prefer responding to this than player x is shit. Starting with good ol Don Vito, I agree with you. He is still a very young goalkeeper who has plenty to prove. One shot stopping match does not make him a player who will know when to come out and catch or when not to come out. It also does not make him a player who can organise the defenders ahead of him. We as fans have to allow him to develop and work on his game. Almunia is our most experienced and established keeper so when on form (highlight the on form part) he should reclaim his shirt unless Mannone is breathtaking and cannot be displaced.

The Diaby debate is one that will run and run. He is a player with a bag full of mixed ingredients, some we need and some we would like to throw into the bin. I do not believe it is a case of he is not good enough. That is too black and white. He is a player who can do things that the rest of the squad cannot but then we have players who do not cause the team harm in certain areas of the pitch.

The way I look at it is that Diaby is a player who hasn't been able to develop as he should have due to his horrific injury suffered from Dan Smith of Sunderland. He was at an age where he was still learning to play the Arsenal way. Not only this but he has had a terrible run of stop start come backs into the squad.

When Alex Hleb arrived at Arsenal he had the same problem. Dribbling into dead ends and giving away possession until he played practically the whole season and corrected his errors. I have hope that Diaby will still be able to pass the ball at the right time and dribble at the right time.

Personally I do not see Diaby at a wide player, he should be competing for a central position or not at all. He has played some good games in that position but overall I think it takes something away from him and the team.

I have hopes because last season when Cesc was injured he managed to get a run of games together and during that period he gave the ball away less, played the right passes more often than not. We cannot underestimate his power, height and ability to score goals. As much as his negatives are frustrating it doesn't wipe away what he is good at.

Currently would I play him if everyone (Denilson, Cesc, Nasri, Song, Rosicky etc) was fit? No. I don't think I would. But when you look at the amount Alex Song has improved it gives me massive hope for Diaby who head and shoulders more talented than Song. Abou Diaby is not going to bring the ball down and first time outside of the foot play a defence splitting pass for a runner but at the same time Cesc Fabregas is not going to pick the ball up in his own half and power through three opposition players and unleash a powerful drive into the top corner. Abou Diaby is capable of that.

Moving onto fans rights, I agree that people have their own opinions and can express those opinions. I cannot do anything about that, but that doesn't mean that it is right. As we are all supporters of the same club, management, players and tea lady we should all be doing what is right for the club, what will help the club. Booing an individual who unintentionally is having a bad game is nothing but counterproductive.

If a player was deliberately trying to score an own goal or doing something against our club then of course, you would have to hold me back but the way I see it is that if it is harming our chances of success then I do not want to be a part of it and neither should any supporter.

Many will disagree and that is fine but that is how I see it. If I mess up at work I would imagine that encouragement would help me through it instead of shouting and screaming abuse.

Anyway credit to Eboue for getting through it and fighting his way back into the hearts of many who doubted him. The guy could really be exceptional if he had better end product. I hope the likes of Eduardo and Van Persie are teaching him hard at London Colney.

  • 15 Sep 2015
    So let me stop reminiscing of days gone by and let me focus on our Welsh wonder. Let me start off by saying that I think it is quite obvious that Aaron Ramsey is better in central midfield. His partnership with Mesut Özil, his running from deep and his underrated ball winning ability makes him a ...Read more