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Arsenal’s Diaby wants to star like Yaya
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Filled in: Soccer News | 4/9/2012 at 5:05am

Abou Diaby hopes his return to fitness will provide Arsenal with their own version of marauding Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure.

Diaby has started all three of the Gunners’ English Premier League matches this season following a year blighted by injury.

The 26-year-old was magnificent in Sunday’s 2-0 defeat of Liverpool, controlling the midfield alongside Mikel Arteta to finish man of the match.

While touted as the perfect replacement for Alex Song, who was sold to Barcelona last month, Diaby insists City powerhouse Toure is a more accurate comparison.

“In our teams, Yaya Toure and me have very similar roles,” he said.

“I am not like Alex Song. We have many players who can take his place, like Francis Coquelin or Mikel Arteta, who likes to play deep. I want to get forward – that’s me.

“I have defensive duties as well, so I need to have a good shape defensively and, as soon as we get the ball, go forward.”

Diaby was signed from Auxerre for STG2 million in 2006 but has yet to realise his potential at Emirates Stadium thanks to a terrible injury record.

Ankle, calf and thigh problems have resulted in long spells in the treatment room and he made only four substitute appearances in the Premier League last season.

The loyalty of Arsene Wenger never waned and now the France international, who has been recalled for Les Blues’ World Cup qualifiers this week, is determined to repay the faith shown by Arsenal’s boss.

“I have to thank the manager because I have had tremendous support and as a player it is really important to have that support,” he said.

“Support from your team-mates as well – I have to say that during this period, they helped a lot.

“I want to enjoy myself because I love football and to pay back the club, manager and team-mates as well.

“Mentally it was a hard time but I love football. Football is my passion, so it doesn’t matter what happened; I need to look forward and that is what I have done in this situation.”

Almost as pleasing as Arsenal’s first goals of the season against Liverpool was a third successive clean sheet.

Germany defender Per Mertesacker believes the victory at Anfield has set the Gunners up perfectly for a busy month that includes fixtures against title-chasing Chelsea and City.

“We believed in ourselves against Liverpool – that was the most important thing and we played fantastic,” Mertesacker told Arsenal Player.

“We had to believe a lot, because our squad has had many changes and some important players have moved. We didn’t know where we stood, but we are very happy now.

“You could see it in the dressing room directly after the match. We are very proud to play for Arsenal. We had a great opportunity here to show everybody what Arsenal is.

“We now have to focus on our strengths and that is vital for the next few weeks, to stay near the top of the league.

“A lot of challenges are coming after the international break but we are looking forward to them because we are full of confidence. We showed that against Liverpool.”

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