Mohamed Diame exposes Arsenal's glaring physical weaknesses

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Arsenal legend Robert Pires admitted yesterday that he feels the current Gunners squad lack the physical presence that made his Invincibles side so special, an opinion which was surely only strengthened by yesterday's disappointing 2-2 draw with Hull City.

The Gunners enjoyed 67% possession against the Tigers and had a whopping 25 shots on goal, but it was largely undone by an imposing midfielder who cost Hull just £3.5 million on deadline day and has a series of qualities Arsene Wenger's troops clearly still lack.

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Diame quite controversially made the difference

Now on the surface Wenger definitely has a grievance over Diame's nost notable contribution at the Emirates on Saturday afternoon, a well-taken equaliser which only slotted home after the Senegal star had moved Mathieu Flamini out of his way with a cynical shirt-pull.

Diame did far more though in the grand scheme of things, after Hull boss Steve Bruce moved the big man from his starting role on the left to a more central position.

Hull were overrun in the first 10 minutes by some slick passing from the Gunners, who had an Alexis Sanchez strike to show for their efforts, but Diame helped Hull look more solid and disrupt the fluency of Arsenal's football simply be staying organised and proving difficult to break down.

In all honesty given Arsenal's injury woes it's fair to say Diame would have started for the hosts yesterday if signed on cheap, primarily because the Gunners have too many similar players in central midfield and a more-defensive minded option in Flamini that has been found wanting so far this season.

Pires hits the nail on the head

One look at the way Diame mixed it with Jack Wilshere in midfield yesterday, as Nemanja Matic also did brilliantly for Chelsea against the Gunners a fortnight ago, and its clear to see why even a company man in Pires is worried by the fragility of a flawed Arsenal squad.

Pires told The Mirror: "The current squad lacks the physical power the Invincibles team had in players like Sol Campbell, (Patrick) Vieira, Gilberto Silva and Thierry Henry.

"But in football, everything is possible. They have (the points gap) with Chelsea, but we can still win the league."

The former Highbury hero is an optimist but Arsenal are already 11 points adrift of a Chelsea side in ominous form, for Wenger it already looks to be about securing a top-four berth yet again.

Arsenal will only be assured of doing that if they add physicality to match their guile in central midfield, something a player like Diame, Morgan Schneiderlin or Sami Khedira could do in one fell swoop.

Fans and pundits have been quick to swoop on a lack of strength in depth at centre-back for Arsenal and rightly do, but boy would it take the pressure off that position if Wenger were to just shell out on a midfielder with the engine and build to dominate games like yesterday's frankly forgettable stalemate with a mid-table side the Gunners simply had to beat.

Arsene Wenger
Premier League

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