Diaby set for defensive duty

Midfielder ready to stand in for Alex Song

Diaby: Ready to stand in

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Abou Diaby is ready to step into Alex Song's defensive midfield role when the Cameroon international leaves for the African Cup of Nations in January.

Diaby has been deployed in a more attacking position for much of this season but with Song set to be absent for up to six weeks, manager Arsene Wenger is expected to deploy him in front of the Gunners defence .

And Diaby, who has struggled with injuries during his four-year spell in North London, is more than willing to take on the responsibility.

He told the club's matchday programme: "I'm ready for it if they ask me to do it.

"I have done it before. It's good for me to be more aggressive and concentrate on the defensive side.

"I haven't heard anything about it yet though. As I say, I'm happy to play anywhere."

Comparisons wrong

Diaby's stature has drawn comparisons with that of Patrick Vieira in some quarters but Wenger insists the 23-year-old's approach is far different from that of the Arsenal legend.

Wenger told the club's official website: "Diaby is a player who crosses the field at ease, goes from box to box like it's no distance and has good power as well.

"I believe Vieira was more of a passer of the ball. Diaby is more of a dribbler, more offensive and makes more penetrating runs. Vieira was more of a constructor. They have a similar elegance and type of play but are not completely comparable."

Wenger has been encouraged by Diaby's contribution so far this season and has predicted a bright future for the France international if he is able to stay fit.

"He had a good sequence of games before he got injured," Wenger added.

"Sometimes he gets strange injuries but had a good week of training last week, he looked strong and is now becoming a very promising player for us.

"I must say that he is a fantastic player to coach as well. Every day you can tell him 'do that, that and that and then you can go home'. He will always do it and he will do more.

"What has been frustrating for him at times is that he works very hard in training and then gets injured."