Football - Diaby is key to Arsenal "puzzle" - Wenger

Manager Arsene Wenger is hopeful Abou Diaby can finally overcome long-term injury problems to take his place in the Patrick Vieira midfield enforcer role at the heart of Arsenal's "puzzle".

PA Sport

The 26-year-old started both the Gunners fixtures last week after more than three months out with a thigh problem and is in line to anchor the midfield again at Chelsea on Sunday.

It was the latest in a long line of injury setbacks for the combative Frenchman, who had recovered from a potentially career-ending broken ankle after a tackle from Sunderland defender Dan Smith in May 2006.

But Wenger feels a fully-fit Diaby can help drive the Gunners on as they aim to claw their way back into the top four of the Barclays Premier League.

"With the way we have structured the team, Diaby is an important part of the puzzle in our team because he adds qualities that we need in the middle of the park," Wenger said.

"He has power and long strides. Diaby is the closest to Patrick Vieira in his style that we have seen for a long time."

Wenger feels Diaby can get the chance to fulfil his undoubted potential.

"I faced exactly the same questions with (Robin) van Persie and for a while everybody thought Van Persie will never play a season, but last year he played 55 games," he added.

"They can get over this cycle, but you always have a little fear that another injury can come in.

"We had that for a long time with Van Persie and suddenly he got over it and I hope Diaby is over it now as well."

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