25 April 2014

And Diaby goes down...again.

No joke. I wish it were. In what is becoming a ludicrously tragic or tragically ludicrous farce, a Kafka-esque nightmare, a boilerplate Bill Murray movie involving Groundhog Day, Abou Diaby has again suffered an injury. After playing 45 minutes with the U21s against Arsenal and by most accounts, doing well, it appears that the Fates have seen fit to once again strike down a man whose only crimes are being harshly tackled and trying his level-best to fight his way back. Apparently, he should have just hung up his boots and taken up crochet. Even then, I suspect the Fates, capricious and cruel as they are, would find a way to snap some heretofore unknown knuckle ligament, rendering him incapable of even knitting. Forget purling. Don't even ask.

According to Arsenal's twitter feed, he has suffered a little groin problem. Is that "little" a Wengerism akin to 'niggle' or 'handbrake', or is it an actual part of the diagnosis? Hard to tell. At first blush, though, our reactions probably sift out into one of two categories, the first one being something like "what do you expect? It's Diaby. Time to cut our losses." The second, more-rational one might sound something more like "keep calm. He's been out for 13 months and had major reconstructive surgery. It's a minor muscular issue. Why rush him back to full first-team action anyway?" You can decide for yourself which camp you fall into or if you'd like to pitch your tent elsewhere. Beware, though, for the tolerance of nuanced positions can at times run dangerously low. It's with that in mind that I venture forward with caution.

My own reaction tends towards the more-optimistic, which should come as no surprise to regular readers. I'm an optimist, though I have my limits. I still see Diaby as a player with a lot to offer this club if and when he does recover. I've suggested that the ACL injury is perhaps the tonic he needs to let his body heal more thoroughly. One cannot rush back from tearing an ACL, after all, in the same way that one might from a strained muscle. This latest setback, however serious it may be, does dampen my optimism just a bit. It's on more of a personal level, though, less on a footballing one. After all, what has Diaby done to deserve this? A part of me wonders if he was Buddhist in a past life and did do something to incur a karmic debt that he is now repaying in this life. Injury after injury after injury. It's heartbreaking. I've reached a point with Diaby that I want to see him play without any regard to how it bolsters our roster, diversifies our strategic or tactical options, or helps us win matches. I just want to see Diaby play. Period. Just for him. Just because he deserves a chance to run and lope and gallop. If daisies and other wildflowers could be made available on the pitch, all the better to let him frolic and gallivant as well. Footloose and fancy-free. Enjoying the ecstasy. Gamboling. And so on.

Like a fair few others, I have eagerly awaited Diaby's return. I even hoped it might happen as soon as Monday against Newcastle, if only as a cameo in the waning minutes of the second half. On his day, after all, he can devastate and eviscerate in a manner reminiscent of Vieira (so says Sagna, among others). That was perhaps a bit optimistic, it turns out, as the groin problem will certainly keep him out of Monday's match and might very well keep him out of matches for another week or more. It's a far cry from the heartbreak I felt after we last lost him, but I teared up all the same, not because we need him or on the pitch but because he deserves it. He's more cursed than Tantalus. Each time fitness seems to be within his grasp, it slips away, always eluding him, always deluding him (and us) into believing he can have it. When he does come back, whether it's next weekend against West Brom, I hope he's free and clear and can experience a performance unfettered by the injuries, physical and pyschological, that have plagued him for all too long. For him. For his own sake. For the love of the game.