Arsene: Diaby can be new Vieira

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes midfielder Abou Diaby can have a similar impact in north London as ex-Gunners captain Patrick Vieira.

The 22-year-old Frenchman possesses the same appearance and powerful, pacey attributes as the Inter Milan midfielder, who made more than 300 appearances for the club.

Diaby - signed from Auxerre in 2006 - showcased his skills at St. James' Park on Saturday, bursting through the Newcastle United defence to fire the Gunners ahead; his second Premier League goal of the season after a similarly lung-busting effort against Aston Villa on Boxing Day.

And Wenger says he sees a lot of his former captain in the young Parisian, and believes he can go on and become a dominant force in the heart of the Arsenal midfield for many years to come.

"There are similarities with Vieira, he has the same stature and the same size," he said. "He has power through the middle of the park. He showed that with his goal and I feel he is growing at the moment. "There is still a lot of work for him to do to get to where Patrick was, but he is only 22. Patrick is a very good role model for him. "There wasn't a lot wrong with his first-half performance. But we were a bit on the back foot at times and didn't protect our defence well enough. "These are just little things he will learn from game to game."

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