Often mocked by fans, Wenger says Abou Diaby should command respect

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In the trainer’s room more than the field during his eight years at Arsenal, Abou Diaby has been the butt of plenty of jokes from both Arsenal fans and those on the outside.

But with Diaby set to return from his most recent ACL tear in a midweek fixture in the Capital One Cup, manager Arsene Wenger believes the 28-year-old midfielder deserves to be respected for his perseverance.

“He is a giant, mentally, to do what he has done,” said Wenger of the 6’3″ Frenchman. “With the severe injuries he has had, he comes back every time and is dedicated.”

Diaby played a full 90 minutes for the U-21 team last week and was with the team at Villa Park for their 3-0 league win over Aston Villa.

“I am a huge believer in his quality and I am sad that he couldn’t show it more,” Wenger said. “If there is some justice, the future will be much better for him.”

Since moving to Arsenal¬† in 2006 from Ligue 1 side Auxerre, he’s made 179 appearances for the Gunners, but made just one league appearance last year and sixteen over the last three seasons.

Wenger confirmed he will use a host of backups in the Cup match with Southampton, with Hector Bellerin, Isaac Hayden, Chuba Akpom and Semi Ajayi, following that up with “we still take this competition seriously.”