Arsenal Focus – Diame could replace Diaby as a dominant midfield presence

Arsenal’s 3-2 FA Cup win over Brighton and Hove Albion was a hard-fought and invaluable victory which kept up the Gunners’ chances of their first piece of silverware since 2005. Manager Arsene Wenger can now focus on a potentially tricky Premier League fixture against Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Brendan Rodgers’ men were not in the draw for the fifth round of the FA Cup having been the victims of a giant-killing, with League One side Oldham Athletic going through at their expense. You would expect, therefore, that the Reds will be out to prove a point.

Then, after that match, Wenger has to guide the club through a key period in the season – the conclusion of the January transfer window. The Frenchman has maintained that he has his eye on one or two players to improve his squad but with time running out, he must now act quickly.

One transfer rumour which seems to have some basis in reality is the continued Gunners interest in West Ham United midfielder Mohamed Diame. The 25-year-old ex-Wigan Athletic player has a release clause of £3.5m in his contract, making his signature an attractive prospect for several Premier League and European clubs looking to strengthen in the centre of the pitch.

And talk of a move to Arsenal has multiplied in the past few days after the Daily Mirror reported that Diame has told friends that his wish is to head to the north London club.

Sam Allardyce, it seems, is resigned to losing his midfield enforcer. Having arranged a team meeting last week, Diame turned up late and was fined for the misdemeanour – perhaps a sign that his mind is already away from Upton Park.

There is no doubt that Arsenal would benefit from signing Diame. While Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla make up an exciting midfield trio with plenty of creative potential, such a composition lacks steel and physical presence.

On the rare occasion that he has been fit, Abou Diaby has provided this for the Gunners. A tall, imposing figure with bags of energy and strength, when Diaby is included in the Arsenal line-up at peak fitness, the difference he makes to the side cannot be understated.

With Diaby continuing to struggle with injury after injury, Diame could prove to be an adequate and more reliable replacement. At both Wigan and West Ham, he has caught the eye with dominant performances at both ends of the pitch and would complement the likes of Cazorla, Arteta and Wilshere well.

But Wenger will not have a clear run at Diame, if he does indeed decide to express his interest formally. Allegedly, Andre Villas-Boas and Tottenham Hotspur are also keen admirers – and could choose to gazump any Gunners move.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Arsenal v Liverpool

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