How Abou Diaby has tightened Arsenal up (Video)

Prospects at Arsenal didn’t look too rosy in the run-up to the new season after the Gunners lost two of their most important players, Robin Van Persie and his 37 goals of last year headed to Manchester United, whilst Alex Song’s midfield creativity headed to Barcelona.

Yet, heading into the first international break after three Premier League games, Arsenal are sitting in a position where it is possible to formulate an argument that those two departures haven’t been missed at all. Van Persie maybe as Arsene Wenger’s team has only managed to score in just one of their trio of games so far, but they have coped with the loss of Song with much more ease due to the emergence of Abou Diaby and a midfield that boasts more tactical organisation.

Wenger’s leaky defence has often proved the downfall of the naïve Arsenal in recent years and in tandem with the work Steve Bould has carried out on the back four, the midfield partnership of Diaby and Spaniard Mikel Arteta have contributed to a surprisingly frugal defensive showing at the beginning of this campaign; three games in and Arsenal are yet to concede a goal.

In arguably their toughest fixture so far, away at Liverpool on Sunday, it is perhaps easiest to gauge the influence Diaby’s re-introduction to the side has had. Given a priority to stick tighter to the defence alongside Arteta, the Frenchman is a more physical force than Alex Song who was often further advanced with his positioning and so therefore, Arteta was not over-run by Liverpool’s midfield runners.

Arsenal’s midfield seems much more linear this time round, Arteta is happy to play the role of deep-lying playmaker with Diaby slotted in alongside as his protection. In front of them, Santi Cazorla is given license to play between the lines and bridge the gap between the Arteta/ Diaby axis to the attack. Because of a reduced need to move forward, Wenger’s reserved midfield duo can afford to stay deep and provide a shield to the defence, cutting off opposition supply lines and avoid getting caught on the break.

Here, in greater detail, is an illustration of Diaby’s influence at Anfield last Sunday.

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