On his Jack Jones?

At times during Wednesday's FA Cup tie, Jack Wilshere looked like he was trying to beat Swansea on his own, but Nick Miller thinks another man playing in the third round replays could help him out at Arsenal...

Jack Wilshere: At times appeared to be taking on Swansea single-handed

There was a moment in Manchester United's 1-0 FA Cup third round replay win over West Ham when home full back Alex Buttner bustled inside from his left flank and tried to spice up a slow home attack.

Mohamed Diame stepped in, and with a flinch of his shoulder tossed Buttner to the ground like he was made of prawn crackers. Diame was already looking up for a teammate to pass to before Buttner's shattered ego had reached the ground.

Diame has been in the news this week in connection with a move to Arsenal, and while it might be lazy, ill-informed paper talk, it could at least be lazy, ill-informed paper talk that makes sense.

Mohamed Diame: Linked with a January move to Arsenal

Watching Diame with one eye and with the other observing Arsenal desperately trying to cut through Swansea like a man trying to slice a stale and stubborn French stick with a plastic knife, it was easy to make the connection between the impressive midfielder and the Gunners' frustrations.

A couple of caveats before we continue; firstly, the lack of a physical midfielder was not Arsenal's problem on Wednesday - if one was to pinpoint a single factor, it was their profligate finishing. The second point is that Diame was far from flawless at Old Trafford. He was occasionally quite dozy and sometimes looked like he wasn't in total control of his legs.


  • Appearances: 16
  • Goals: 2
  • Shots: 28
  • Fouls: 32
  • Pass success: 81
  • Yellow cards: 2
  • Red cards: 0

The point is that he offers something that Arsenal don't have, specifically a reliable physical midfield presence to help out Jack Wilshere - with Abou Diaby bad luck with injuries counting against his ability to perform that role regularly.

At times, it looked like Wilshere was trying to beat Swansea on his own, not only passing and probing in his usual manner, but bursting forwards from midfield when it became clear that Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud were struggling to find the net.

He was, to borrow the language of your Hansens and your Thompsons, trying to take the game by the 'scruff of the neck.' If his teammates weren't going to bother to win the game, Wilshere was going to do his damndest. The problem is Wilshere can't do this every week. He's going to need a rest soon as Arsene Wenger has already intimated.

Diame can do that. He's a different sort of player to Wilshere, of course, but he can do similar things, specifically grab a game and change it. He did that when West Ham played Chelsea earlier this season, coming on at half-time when the Hammers were 1-0 down, and by the time he was done the score was 3-1 and Rafa Benitez cursed his name.

Wenger looks to the future

The argument after Alex Song was sold and not replaced was that Arsenal don't necessarily need a midfielder who can tackle these days. Wilshere and Mikel Arteta can knock the ball around to the extent that a physical presence is almost redundant, and that might be the case in some games. But not all. In many they need a different option, someone to do a spot of marauding. Song and Diame are similar players in that lots of people think they're merely defensive midfielders, but are actually just as comfortable, threatening and useful going forwards.

He isn't the answer to all of Arsenal's problems (then again no single player is), he might not even get in the team every week, but he'll give them something different. And the best part is he's relatively cheap - £3.5million via a reported clause in the contract he signed only six months ago.

"I can't see where he is going to fit in," sniffed Sam Allardyce when asked about Arsenal's interest, attempting his Kaa from the Jungle Book act, eyes swirling, trying to convince Diame to stay at West Ham.

I can see where he'd fit in, and so should Arsene Wenger.