Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed the thigh injury Abou Diaby's picked up against Chelsea on Saturday will rule him out for most of October - and has hinted that the French national team can take some of the blame for his latest injury setback.
Diaby managed just four substitute appearances in the Premier League last season and Wenger had hoped he could emerge as a key man in his line-up following the sale of Alex Song to Barcelona, yet he is back in the treatment room just five games into the new season and Wenger concedes it is a major setback ahead of Wednesday night's Champions League clash against Olympiacos at the Emirates Stadium.
"It is a blow to lose Diaby again because he brings qualities to the team that others do not bring," said Wenger. "For example, on Saturday when he went off, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came on, took his position straight away and we lost the ball for a set-piece. It was a ball Diaby would have won easily because he has the size. We have better balance with him because he has the power.
"I said many times that if France wanted Diaby for their game in Spain later this month, they should not take him for Finland and Russia at the start of the season. They could have taken him and not played him because the guy has been out for a year.
"We have to look at this as an opportunity for someone else to step up and play and we have plenty of options in the midfield. This is why we felt it was possible to allow Song to leave in the summer. We have Ramsey, Coquelin, Chamberlain, Wilshere, it depends on if you want to be more offensive.
"We have plenty of players who are in between higher up and lower down in midfield. Arteta can play higher and deeper as well. So we can put a deeper midfielder in like Coquelin and then Arteta can move forward."
Wenger has revealed that misfiring summer signing Olivier Giroud is 'upset' at his failure to break his Premier League scoring duck despite being presented with a host of presentable chances, but the Arsenal boss has backed his compatriot to find his scoring boots soon.
"I told Olivier not to worry but a striker who does not score does not really want to hear that," he said of the striker he signed from Montpellier. "He had a chance against Liverpool, a chance against Sunderland and a chance against Chelsea. Once the first goes in, maybe the rest will follow."
Jack Wilshere's successful return in an under-21 game on Monday has fuelled hopes that the England midfielder will make a first team return for Arsenal this month, but Wenger has again insisted he will not rush his creative maestro. "Jack came through his first game well, but we he will need a lot more time before he is ready to play in the first team," said Wenger. "I am sure he can get back to his best in time, but we need to be careful as he has been out for 14 months."
Wilshere's imminent return is diluted by the continued absence of keeper first choice keeper Wojciech Szczesny, with Wenger confirming his Polish stopper is set for another three weeks on the sidelines.