Arsene Wenger has called on Abou Diaby to prove his worth over the coming weeks as the midfielder fights to earn a contract extension with only 18 months remaining on his current deal.
The 26-year-old midfielder’s Arsenal career has been blighted by injuries, starting seven years ago when he had his leg broken in the last game of the season at Sunderland – a set-back which kept him out of action for almost all of the following Premier League campaign.
Yet despite his injury woes, Wenger has praised the player’s attitude and ability.
The Gunners’ manager told reporters: “It is a big period for him. He is conscious of it. He does everything, but you do not want to put any pressure on him because he has enough. He puts himself under so much pressure, Abou.
“He is a very conscientious guy. You should see how he works, how he is focused every day, because when a guy suffers as much as he did he becomes very professional, very rigorous.
“With Diaby, he has a very serious life, doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t go out, and is very conscientious in training. So you always feel sorry for him, so you always touch wood it will go well for him.
“If you love football and you see a player like Abou, you want him to have the career he deserves, especially when he has the attitude that he has.
“You are in a position where you have to have patience. Because what did he do wrong? Nothing. At least you have to give him a chance.
“He can defend, he can attack. He is strong in the challenge. He can dribble. He can pass players. He is very quick in the transition, offence, defence. When you win the ball he can cross the pitch quickly. And he is good in the air.
“Once you put all these qualities together… and he is a fighter. With great stamina. So when you put all these qualities together… Of course I would put him next to Jack [Wilshere].”
Diaby joined Arsenal from Auxerre in January 2006 but because of injury has made only 129 starts for the club (19 goals) in the seven years since.
The France international recently made his return to first-team action after being forced on the sidelines for a further four months. Now he hopes to keep his place in the starting line-up when Arsenal travel to Stamford Bridge on Sunday for a 13:30 kick off.