Abou Diaby tears ACL, raises issue of injury prevention at Arsenal

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With the news that Abou Diaby tore the anterior cruciate ligament of his left knee in training on Wednesday, it’s hard to avoid thinking about how prevalent injuries have become at Arsenal.

The club released the following statement regarding the France international: “Abou Diaby injured his left knee in training on Wednesday and subsequent scans have confirmed that he has torn his anterior cruciate ligament. Following consultations with specialists, Abou will undergo surgery to repair the injury in the near future.

“Abou is expected to be out for around eight to nine months. The thoughts and best wishes from everyone at Arsenal are with Abou, and we all wish him a successful recovery.”

The news of Diaby’s injury is just plain sad. Since joining the North London club from Auxerre in 2006, the 26-year-old has repeatedly been stricken with injuries. It began with the fracture and dislocation of his ankle in May 2006 and since then he’s repeatedly been hampered by lingering ankle and calf issues.

When healthy – which obviously isn’t very often – it’s a pleasure to watch the languid Frenchman patrol the center of the park. The man has freaky physical attributes and a delicate touch that allows him to take over games and dominate opponents. Unfortunately, it may be a long time before we witness those kind of displays.

Diaby joins teammates Jack Wilshire and Theo Walcott on the Arsenal injury list, the former having suffered an ankle injury during the March 3rd North London Derby and the later hampered by a pelvic problem developed over the international break. For a club with aspirations of moving up the league table and into a Champions League position, the news is difficult to swallow.

But Diaby’s ACL tear raises an even bigger question: Is there a club in the Premiership that suffers more devastating injuries than Arsenal?

I don’t think so. Further, does it not seem like the healing timeline for Arsenal’s injured players is longer than that of other clubs? Perhaps it’s mere coincidence. Or, perhaps it’s time Arsene Wenger takes a hard look at why his players seem to break down so easily and recover so slowly. Training methods, dietary restrictions and even medical personnel – it all needs to be questioned if the Gunners are to put the kibosh on one of the club’s most serious problems.

Whatever the reason, when it comes to injury prevention, something just isn’t working at the Emirates.

AT THE HALF: Manchester derby scoreless after 45 minutes

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After 45 minutes, the final Manchester derby of the 2016-17 Premier League season — the one that’ll go a long, long way toward deciding which of the city’s sides will finish in the top-four — is scoreless, but not without incident.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

The game’s best chances thus far fell Manchester City’s way, as Sergio Aguero missed a clear-cut chance after 10 minutes — Kevin De Bruyne whipped in the perfect ball to the back post, and Aguero put it wrong side of David De Gea‘s post.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Ander Herrera has, once again, be Manchester United’s danger man, combining well with Marcus Rashford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but Claudio Bravo made the one save he was forced into during the first half. One thing to keep an eye on during the final 45 minutes: Rashford picked up a knock very early on, and struggled to move around the field after that.

STREAM LIVE: The Manchester Derby

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The third Manchester Derby of the season is the first away from Old Trafford, as Manchester United visits Manchester City (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday.

There’s much on the line, as the sides sit just two points apart in the race for the Top Four. Man City would leapfrog third-place Liverpool with a win, while United could join the Reds on 66 points with a match-in-hand.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Sergio Aguero starts for Man City, with Gabriel Jesus on the bench.

On the other side, it’ll be a physical middle-third guarded by Ander Herrera, Michael Carrick, and Marouane Fellaini. Wayne Rooney and Jesse Lingard start on the bench.

LINEUPS

Manchester City: Bravo, Zabaleta, Kompany (C), Otamendi, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Sterling, De Bruyne, Sane, Aguero. Subs: Caballero, Sagna, Fernando, Navas, Clichy, Gabriel Jesus, A. Garcia

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Darmian; Herrera, Carrick, Fellaini, Mkhitaryan; Rashford, Martial. Subs: Romero, Shaw, Fosu-Mensah, Tuanzebe, Young, Lingard, Rooney.

Ex-Liverpool CEO shares biting story of Suarez transfer

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Ian Ayre’s got jokes.

The former Liverpool CEO lifted the lid on some transfer stories during a Merseyside lecture this week.

Of note, Ayre admitted that the club thought Dele Alli demanded too much given what he had produced when the Reds has the chance to sign him as a 16-year-old, and said that Liverpool could’ve landed Alexis Sanchez but the player wanted to live in London (“We couldn’t move the football club to London, unfortunately,” he quipped).

The best part relayed by Sky Sports had to do with Luis Suarez, and shows the relentless nature of the transfer market. Clearly Barcelona had interest in Suarez before the fiery striker bit Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup, because, well…

“I remember the sporting director of Barcelona calling me during that game, immediately as Suarez bit the player, and he said to me ‘my friend, he’s bitten somebody, how can this be the price?’ I said ‘he’d already bitten somebody when you first bid!'”

We’re sure there’s a certain amount of storytelling in there, but undoubtedly some truth.

Given Barca paid a reported $84 million for the striker, the asking price couldn’t have started that much higher.

Men in Blazers podcast: Chelsea tops Spurs, Top Four predictions

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Rog and Davo return to discuss Chelsea’s FA Cup semifinal victory over Spurs, update their Top Four predictions (again), and dive into the depths of the relegation zone. Plus, the very important movement to change “Hudson Street” to “Ray Hudson Street.”

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