By Richard Clarke
Abou Diaby has three major ambitions this season – to stay fit, win trophies with his Club and earn selection to the France squad for the World Cup.
The midfielder began the Premier League campaign in style by scoring a brace in Arsenal’s 4-1 win against Portsmouth on Saturday. It was another example of the 23-year-old’s undoubted talent but perhaps one that, as yet, has not been fully realised.
A succession of injuries has been the major cause of that. If Diaby can put those behind him then surely he can add to the two French caps he won in 2007.
"It was my first full game because I’d had a few injuries in pre-season,” he admitted after Saturday’s game. “So to score two goals and have the team winning was a very good day for me.
"Now I want to stay fit, play the maximum number of games and do really well this season.
"I know it's a big season for me and the World Cup is in my mind, of course.
"France have to qualify first but I want to be there and make sure I am in the team so it's one of my targets for the season."
Diaby’s team targets seem all the more realistic after three free-scoring wins to open the season. Arsenal were not exactly written off before the campaign began but they were barely backed to improve on last season’s fourth place.
"I think we are happy because we have won the first two league games,” said the former Auxerre midfielder. “It's given us a lot of confidence. We have some big games coming up in the future and we have to be ready.
"I feel we can definitely challenge everyone this season. We are ready to fight and to get something this year.
"We talk about winning the Champions League, of course. Arsenal is a big club and as a player you want to win that trophy so it's in our mind.”
To do that they must first see off Celtic, who arrive at Emirates Stadium on Wednesday intent on overturning a 2-0 first leg deficit.
"It will be hard against them,” said Diaby. “They are a good team.
“We are now focused on this game. Everyone knows it will not be easy even after winning the first leg so we will have to be focused to go through.
"But we have scored 12 goals in three games so far, we have confidence and hopefully we can keep going.”Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source