More evidence that Diaby’s best position is further forward

A few days ago I wrote about the apparent change in Abou Diaby’s role in our 4-3-3 formation. I stated that I felt that Diaby’s best position is slightly further forward than Cesc Fabregas, allowing him to use his dribbling to drive into the penalty area while Fabregas dictates the play with his creative passing game.

Given Diaby’s tendency to polarise opinion this notion was understandably met with some skepticism among the AFCB readers. “Here’s an idea, don’t play him at all…” and “Diaby clearly polarises people – they either rate him or hate him. It’s a reflection of his lack of consistency…” are just two comments that reflect the opinion of quite a few Arsenal supporters.

The following compilation video, taken from France’s 2-0 win in Bosnia, is a superb showcase of the impact Diaby can have as the chief attacking midfielder in the side. And while it might not end the debate about his consistency, I feel it provides more evidence that Diaby is most dangerous when played higher up the pitch and given license to attack.


Have your say on Diaby’s performance against Bosnia by leaving a comment.



  1. I think Diaby’s best position is the one he currently plays for Arsenal, the role of a balancing midfielder in a 4-3-3 who has to help the holding midfielder as well as get forward. Otherwise I’d play him behind the main striker in a 4-4-1-1.

  2. You seem to be mistaken France for Arsenal , which is a real bad error, he has different quality players around him in the france squad and Arsenal plays team football

  3. I think he can easily do a job further forward, especially given his finishing is pretty good at times, as well as having a good dribble on him but the problem is we have many people better suited to it than him at Arsenal. He’s never going to be as effective as most of the guys we have who can do it there though, i.e. Rosicky/Nasri/Cesc/Arshavin. For us he is a lot more helpful as a box-to-box kind of midfielder, keeping an eye on the defense but with a license to get forward when it’s warranted, using his strength and height in the places where it’s needed in the Premiership. Does look like he’s starting to get some confidence going from that vid though and having a guy like him in form in the middle is really going to help.

  4. Wow, that is the first I have seen or heard about his performance against Bosnia, and from that vid it looks like he had a barnstorming game.

    Agree with Ole, his best role is the box-to-box man, help out the DM, Song, and join in the attack with the AM, Cesc, when the opportunity arises.

    He is growing into a complete midfielder, he can play DM, and he can play AM, he has wonderful vision and can play some very deft chipped passes from range, the pass to robin at goodision 2 seasons back to level the game in the 93rd min is one that sticks in my mind.

    Keep him fit, keep faith in him, fully back him, dont boo him… and he is a total monster.

  5. Good vid, but what’s with the music?!? Just when you think it’s over we get Creed. AAAAGGGH

    Anyway, I do agree that Diaby can be excellent when he has sufficient rest. He has a respectable goalscoring record from midfield and a good deal of skill. If he can stave off the injuries then we’re looking at a very, very good player.

  6. He CAn play further up, but that would be wasting his defensive talents and not using Cesc as effectively as possible. His best position in our midfielder trio is as the box-to-box midfielder between Cesc and Song.

    If Diaby realises his potential (and I think he will), that will be one amazing midfield.

  7. He is best in a straight line from penalty spot to penalty spot. Tackle, turn, run, straight through the centre circle. Everyone else can make the fancy movement – like catching a train. Anyone who is still thinking Diaby ain’t all that, better check the STATS. He is key for ALL big games.
    Diaby Liverpool. Diaby Aston Villa, Diaby Blackburn, and yes Diaby Chelsea, Manure and Barcelona!!! Peeps don’t like to study that matches we’ve lost, but I do, and can tell you that him and Naz are top players. This squad we’ve got brewing is the BEST YET

  8. This video is great, it’s what I think a lot of people see in him. If he can play with that kind of aggression and confidence on a consistent basis, he has the strength, the pace and the skills to be a incredible player regardless of the position he plays.
    By the way, he didnt seem to be playing that far forward. It looked like he was in central midfield but just had a bit more freedom than he generally gets playing for arsenal.
    Anyway, we already knew he has a lot of attacking talent, he’s shown that in spurts throughout his arsenal career, scoring and creating some amazing goals, but he also has a lot of useful attributes on the defensive side which are improving all the time. In the end he will be a very complete player.
    About a week ago I commented that abou will be a very good player, but never a “great”, like patrick vieira, because he doesnt have the aggressive personality for it. Given the evidence provided by this video, it looks like I could be wrong. If he starts to take the bull by the horns like that in PL games, he certainly *could* be as great as vieira because he has a better all-round game!

  9. Top marks, Mr Author, you clever, clever man. Lst time we beat Manure at home he played there along with Bendtner> Remember when Massri scored twice against Manure? That was when. He used his size and dazzling dribbling to flamox Manure surprisingly Wenger never gave him another look in in the same position which baffles me.

  10. I think there is some confusion about my meaning of the term “playing further forward”. I wish I had a diagram to describe this, but alas, my words will have to do.

    Essentially I think there is a misconception that when Song, Diaby and Cesc play together they play in that order from defence to attack. Ie. Song is the most defensive, Diaby is the next most defensive and Cesc the most attacking. But I think this has now changed. I think Diaby and Cesc are essentially starting level and Diaby’s greater athleticism means he gets further forward and comes further back. Fabregas works hard too, but he tends to operate in a smaller space.

    It might only be a small difference but I think that encouraging Diaby to move forward improves his performances because he feels as though he has two covering players if he loses the ball. This means he plays with more purpose and confidence and performs more effectively.

    I hope that makes sense.

  11. @ Andrew – That does make more sense to me.
    I think diaby is useful for the squad because he gives us both options. If we’re up against a side who we think will sit back more, we can push abou up with cesc, and let him attack, but if we know we’re in for a tough game like Utd, liverpool or even blackburn, we can kep diaby back next to song. The really awesome thing is that we can change this during a game, so if one of the lesser sides looks like causing us problems, wenger diaby can move back to help out song more. He really is a great player to have in the squad.

  12. yet again more shit on the net to read, seriously what a stupid pointless article!!

    anyone who knows anything about football knows that diaby is most effective going forward, you only have to watch one arsenal game and you can figure that one out.

    i see another stupid article the other day comparing diaby to viera! again how stupid is that, other than there both black, tall and very stong there not alike atal. as the blatenly obvious title above suggest diaby is a forward but viera was abit more balanced, hes main strength was braking up play, i would compare him more to song but that another story.

    anyway, im of to write my own article on how fabregas best position is center midd, or how bentshits best position in on the bench, i bet id also get a bunch of retards reading it like you lot with coments like the ones above, fucking loosers…

  13. Against Bolton:
    ————– Almunia —————
    Sagna – Koscielny – Squillaci – Clichy
    ————— Song —————–
    ——————— Diaby ———-
    ———- Fabregas
    Nasri/Eboue ——— Arshavin/Rosicky
    ————– Chamakh —————

    But When All Fit:
    ————– Almunia —————
    Sagna – Koscielny – Vermaelen – Clichy
    ————— Song —————–
    ——————— Diaby ———-
    ———- Fabregas
    V.Persie ——— Arshavin/Rosicky
    ————– Chamakh —————

  14. Always thought Diaby was one of the most naturally gifted players we got. He’s strong, tall, and can dribble and shoot, and maybe play a little defense. Last season people put him on their shit-list cause of that own goal at ManU; I was upset too but I forgave him real quick cause, we gotta remember, he was still a young guy and that was deffinitely a learning experience for him. This season we really need him healthy since he brings so much quality that we’d be missing otherwise- wilshere and rosicky aren’t nearly as physical and denilson has yet to prove himself to me as an actaul Arsenal player. C’mon big Arsh for hat-trick vs bolton!!!

  15. oh and brad- what was the point of that comment other then to show that ur a giant deuchbag? if that was ur plan, it deffinitely worked, cause otherwise that comment is completely worthless, much like ur exitence, troll….

  16. Oh boy vamerylyn Injuried as well Arsenal is cursed BUT I wish the guys well tomorrow this is a test to see how deep the squad is last season we beat bolton but the endresult did not speak the match cause bolton created a lot of chances they play better football under coyle this should suit arsenal cesc ans arshavin must paly well and also we get a chance to see our 2 new center backs on display
    GO ARSENAL…………………

  17. Yes Diaby looks most dangerous (likely to score a goal) when he is pushed further forward. Having agreed to that it is sort of like saying that it the sun looks brighter at noon than midnight. Of course when you are given free rein to attack you can get in better attacking positions.
    Yes, Diaby has improved greatly. I would, however, feel that he is at best the 4th best in the Fabregas (or front/top/whatever) role behind Fab, Nasri, and Rosicky at least, and probably behind Ramsey (when healthy), and Arshavin. Even Wilshire shows more vision in his passing and speed in his decision making. Diaby is great for going at mach 5 in a straight line and blowing a shot past defenders. Ask him to score the type of goal that Nasri did last year when he left 3 defender’s jock straps on the ground and you’ll be waiting for a long time (forever?). Ask him to weight a ball through the defense for a striker to run onto between defense and keeper like Fab does and you might see one or two a season. Ask him to run the passing game from the center like Rocky did when subbed on against Liverpool.
    He has more steel in him than any of those mentioned, but seriously as an attacking threat rating him above Fab/Nasri/Rocky is insanity. When he can make well judged and executed passes or change the direction of his run more than a smidge I might agree. He has definitely improved his attacking abilities, but is on the teamsheet for his ability to contribute more to the defense than the preceeding trio, not because he can hold a candle to them in attack.

  18. Andrew: Great article again, as always. I’m so hoping that Diaby will have a great season and that he’ll drive us that little closer to the title. He seems to have the natural ability to turn a game in our favour and yet he can just as easily do something completely daft. And that’s the reason why he polarises opinion. But that said, I’m thinking this is his year (and ours)…

    On a separate point: Is there anything you can do to stop oiks like Brad from contributing (I use that term very loosely)? I don’t mind reading his pitiful comments, but can someone direct him to an online learning course for English Language or some such thing (his spelling actually made me laugh out loud)?

    Back to something a little more positive: I love the new site and all the new contributors (Brad aside of course). Keep up the good work!

  19. Brad, why on earth would you come on an arsenal blog to dish out that sort of bollocks. You a dyslexic spud by any chance?

    Still can’t make my mind up about Diaby. Looks sensational at times and utter crap at others. Some of his turns in midfield with close control to get away from his markers does remind me of Viera tho’. Resemblance stops there but!

  20. Andrew – Thanks for opening up a Diaby debate because it’s something I’ve long wanted to read about.
    As a well known Diaby-hater I do like to hear the opposing view because I always wonder if there’s something I’m missing. Your video certainly put on a good showcase for what IS good about Diaby – but nowhere near enough to convince me he’s good enough for The Arsenal. The match in your video was against lowly Bosnia – and it was the French national side. The creme de la creme. It remained 0-0 til the last 15 – 20 minutes. So what genuine positive impact did Diaby have? Bits and pieces. Enough to make a mildly impressive 5 minute video compilation. It doesn’t exactly set the pulse racing does it? And this has pretty much always been my point. Just imagine if we had a real, top class talent to play instead of Diaby. Imagine how transforming an influence that could be on the team? Instead we have to put up with this ‘engima’ who may put in a decent turn now and then but is also just as likely to fall over the ball and gift it to the opposition. He’s been with us a long time, he must have clocked up hundreds of appearances. And what does he have to show for it? A few goals. A few assists. Yet people still talk about him as having potential. It’s always about how good Diaby is GOING to be. When!?? One or two fellow Gooners above have mentioned Diaby’s height as an asset but unfortuantely in Diaby’s case it is not an asset. He’s probably actually be better if he was shorter with a lower centre of gravity because he doesn’t know how to use his height all. He’s a terrible header of the ball and in fact missed a header in the very match against Bosnia your highlights are from. Quote:
    – ‘ their frustrations were beginning to show as Abou Diaby headed a Malouda free-kick over from close range.’ SOCCERNET report.
    In defence he’s more of a danger than an asset if he manages to get his head to the ball. Yes I know he scored that winning header against Liverpool last season but that is rare and if anyone remembers that goal it was actually not a good header, I think it came half off his shoulder and he was completely unchallenged. No. He definitely ain’t no Viera! It amazes me actually that he is picked for the French national side – (and ahead of Nasri for the World Cup!! – encroyable!) but I doubt it will last. France must have a better player for that spot and I don’t think the French supporters will give Diaby the lee-way we Gooners (and AW) have.
    Personally for the upcoming Bolton game I would play Wilshire in Diaby’s place without the slightest hesitation. Diaby would make the bench but only because of the players who are currently out such as Ramsey. I would like to see Diaby dropped for ever. Preferably from the Clifton Suspension bridge. I honestly don’t think he’d be missed for a second. He’s destined to be a forgotten man of the Gunners wilderness years (2005-2010) and with a mighty player there in his stead the Gunners could triumph.
    Anyway thanks for letting me air my views on this vexatious issue.
    PS – I would also drop Clichy to the bench and play Gibbs for the Bolton game as I’m becoming very disturbed by Clichy’s defensive capabilities of late. Although he’s good going forward he basically seems to have completely forgotten how to defend. It was he, not Koscielny, who was at fault for Blackburns goal, allowing Doof or whatever his name is to run in behind him totally unchallenged. Gael wasn’t even looking. He wasn’t EVEN facing the right way! I love Clichy god bless him but, god, he’s a bit soft in the head sometimes. Generally his defending is very poor lately. The French are on the wane and the English are on the wax so let’s get Gibbsy in.
    ‘Moonyer / Sag/ Kosh/ Squilch/ Gibbs/ Song/ Wilsh/ Fab/ Rocky/ Arsh/ Chamak – attack attack attack. Up The Asenal!

  21. @ Hey Nonny Mouse – He is a fantastic header of the ball.You forget the goal he scored for ManUtd against us.After a great flick by Giggs,he slotted perfectly into the target.Whatever,he is slow,he loses the ball but,we all know that, he will be in the playing XI. He is not the best option but we have to use him.It will be Song,Cesc and Diaby in the midfield.I agree with you about playing Gibbs instead of Clichy.Diaby’s future is only in this club.He have to prove himself and it will be in this season.

  22. I dont know about Diaby. The boy’s got mad skills but he is just too inconsistent. And almost everytime i see him, his head and shoulders are dropped. That shows that he lacks confidence. Maybe that is the problem.

  23. Maybe the best prospect we have. Tall, box to box etc. and his skills are not fully developed yet. changes pace, strong.

    We are going to need this one as the years go by.

  24. Diaby’s problem is his twin brother. You know the one that seems to lock him in the basement and steal his shirt come match day! I am on the verge of being convinced that this evil twin brother exists, such is the inconsistency of the guy. He can be a world beater one game, then a complete donkey the next.

    I agree with the article though, that Diaby’s strength is on the front foot. When he turns and drives from midfield really causes teams problems, and his gangly awkwardness makes him hard to tackle. I think its about time for him to be preforming on a consistent regular basis now though. Give him the rest of this season, and maybe next, to fulfil his potential… if not, then give him the boot!

  25. I’m an Arsenal fan since 1978 who always wish Diaby get injured all the time so that my favourite Thomas Rosicky be given enough playing time to demonstrate his skill and contribute to the success of the gunners. One major difference between current gunners and the invicibles is the effectiveness of counterattacking. The invicibles have a sprint relay team of Henry, Pires, Ljunberg masterminded by Viera or Bergkamp to punish the opponent during counterattack. There were a lot of passing among the invicibles and they passed the ball forward. They do not depend so much on the wingbacks to provide crosses. They make the game so simple and effective.
    The current team is rather slow in counterattacking and not effective. Quite often, the ball is move backward during counterattacking due to not enough support…especially when Diaby is playing. Diaby slowed the forward move quite often and changed the supposed smooth and easy forward move through his dribbling and backward passing. The current team has sprint relay of Arshavin, Rosicky, Fabregas and Walcott who keep moving the ball forward. Lets keep them together for a longer period, we will have a better sprint relay compared to that of the invicibles. Arshavin, Cesc, and Rosicky are quick, skillful world class players. Samir Nasri will be the backup to replace one of them, not Diaby. Diaby shall be kept as utility player, operating from the bench. He can be our impact player should we need to change our game plan during a match. Alternatively, sell him when the price is right.

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