It’s a worrying situation to be in but Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger will be heavily reliant on injury-prone midfielder Abou Diaby for the final three games of the Premier League season.
He has featured less than five times in the league this season for the Gunners and missed practically the whole campaign with a variety of peculiar injuries.
But as the race for a top-four spot hots up with Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea all breathing down Arsenal’s necks, a raft of midfield injuries has left Wenger short of options.
Diaby is a player whom Wenger simply has to offload in the summer if Arsenal are going to challenge for the title next season – you can’t carry a passenger who is rarely fit.
But perhaps Diaby can prove to all Arsenal supporters that he does have a future at The Emirates and he can dominate games physically starting at Stoke City next weekend.
To guarantee Champions League football next season Arsenal need to win two of their final three games, and the way they played against both Wigan Athletic and Chelsea, it’s easier said than done.
Arsenal seem to have run out of bodies and momentum – they’ve lost their urgency and creativity.
Without Mikel Arteta, Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere there seems to be no creative spark, while Robin van Persie is no longer scoring goals for fun.
So it’s finally time for Diaby to shine and at long last produce a performance worthy of his £50,000-per-week salary.
Being a top quality January signing is the easy part; where Nikica Jelavić will be judged is in the opening months of next season.
Jelavić’s two goals against Manchester United contributed to a thrilling draw at Old Trafford and even if it was by accident that the ball ended up in the back of the net for his first, he still found space for himself and put the ball in the danger zone.
His second was that of a pure poacher, the hallmark of a player full of confidence. He now has seven goals for the club and is looking like another smart bit of business from David Moyes.
But he signed a four-and-a-half year contract with Everton and it will be interesting to see whether he can keep up such marksmanship.
Everton supporters will hope he does but the Jon Stead case study makes nasty reading for bolters like Jelavić.
Stead scored six goals for Blackburn Rovers after signing from Huddersfield Town in February 2004. His goals kept Rovers up that year but when next season rolled round he hadn’t progressed and the dream died.
Whether it’s in his nature or not, Jelavić needs to avoid patting himself on the back too much. A sensible off-season and a hard pre-season will ensure he’s in top nick next year.
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