I’ve long been an admirer of Abou Diaby.
From the season when he signed for us, showing no shortage of skill at the Bernabeu when he came on for a brief cameo against Real Madrid to his brilliance footwork and his superb goal against Fenerbahce earlier this season, he has something about him which suggests he is top quality.
I’ve felt sorry for the Frenchman, who has been shoved out into an unnaturally wide position and not been able to show what he can do in a central role. Until recently.
And with Cesc Fabregas out for the majority of the season, Diaby has had a chance to show his talents in the middle and, I’m afraid to say, has been a disappointment.
One minute, he weaves his way past half the team before creating a clear opportunity for the team.
The next, he’s drifting around, thinking of what he’s going to do that evening and focusing on anything other than the game in hand.
Remember his tackle at Bolton last season? I for one would never criticise a player for dishing out the same treatment to a Trotter as they have done to us for years.
But this season, when Diaby has had his chance to shine, he has disappointed me, while Welsh prodigy Aaron Ramsey seems to have it all...
It is somewhat telling that Arsène Wenger recently commented that Diaby doesn’t yet have the ingredients to be a central midfielder, with all the defensive responsibilities that position demands.
Wenger said: “I believe in his mind he is more an offensive player, not a defensive player. And that technical defensive awareness is more in Denilson, say, or Song at the moment. Diaby is more interested in going forward and making a difference going forward... but we try to develop that in him and he has the ingredients to become a central midfielder. I believe also you have to choose a position for a player where he feels completely comfortable and is suited to his psychological profile... and if you place somebody against his deep desire, he can never be completely himself.”
Compare and contrast that with Aaron Ramsey.
The young Welshman only made his debut for Cardiff a year ago and has been touted as the new Steven Gerrard (no court appearances please Aaron!).
When he first arrived, I was impressed by his neat and tidy attitude. True, he didn’t seem flamboyant but he rarely put a foot wrong.
He’s had some good cameos and some indifferent ones, but for me, he came of age against Aston Villa.
Faced with stifling a side who are on the up, if others had been as calm and focused as Ramsey, we would have won the game. His passing was crisp, his tenacity and tackling was sublime.
I like the fact that he didn’t allow himself to be bullied and his growth in confidence has been marked in recent weeks.
His introduction, along with that of Carlos Vela, turned a lumbering performance into a hard-fought victory last week against Portsmouth and, while the likes of Tony Adams’ side and Plymouth are not the sternest tests Arsenal will face, Ramsey still gave a fine account of himself.
We’re seeing a different Ramsey now.
Sure, he made a couple of wild passes which went straight to the opposition and put us in trouble, but unlike Diaby and others, he surged back to win the ball or put himself between the opposition and danger.
And going forward, the Welshman has shown why so many hype his abilities.
Ramsey is not afraid to shoot. We saw it in Turkey and we saw it on Saturday. Worry not that he didn’t score – he will do. But how refreshing that he wanted to shoot and was almost always on target with his efforts.
He also has trickery, driving forward and taking players on, offering himself and demanding the ball while others shied out of the limelight.
Wenger is cautious but optimistic and who can blame him? “I think he will be a great player for me. He can play in some Premiership games already. If you ask whether he can play every week, or every three days, I don’t think he is ready yet. But he shows that he has the sort of quality that he will be there very soon.”
“Aaron is still a bit short of Premiership standard I believe. He is only just 18 though. Players like Ramsey that have shown they are growing. Of course they still have lapses and show a lack of experience. But they have quality and they grow quickly.”
So what do you think? Does Ramsey rock or does Diaby delight? Vote now!