They did not spend £42 million on him, he came to his beloved team on a free transfer and now according to me he is more important player than the £42 million Ozil. Mathieu Flamini’s signing is a stroke of genius from Wenger. Football is not always about glory, it is about balance and contrast. You need attacking flair and penetration as well as players who do the dirty work to win games and Flamini is just the hardman who can stand up to any physical challenge and does it gracefully.
Wenger recognized the raw talent from Marseille and signed him just after one season in the French side in 2004 and played 21 games in his first season. He was fan favorite and a defensive mid with a strike for goal in him. However, few hearts were broken when Flamini left Arsenal for Milan and few criticized the Arsenal board for not convincing top players to stay. However, he is back and winning games from the defensive end for Arsenal and its high time they recognize his contribution.
I call him the Captain without an arm band for his presence, his work rate and his Vocal ability to get things done. He is always available to give defensive cover and how he talks about his team mates and appreciates players such as Wilshere, Arteta, Ozil and Giroud. He brings his experience to a not so young squad and always has his feet grounded and knows how to go about his job. When asked about Arsenal being 5 points ahead, He replied ‘It is a great feeling [to be five points clear] but the championship is long and we still have a lot of teams to play’.
Flamini after last week’s game against Everton -‘It is going to be a busy period for us and we just have to focus. These are all big games, the ones you want to play in, and everyone is excited to be playing in them.’ He has vast premier league experience, he knows games come thick and fast, and with games against Chelsea and Manchester City, the lead of five points might be cut short if they don’t get the right result.
I saw him against Napoli and Everton and You could see it from his body language that the Frenchman is enjoying his specific role assigned to him just now, which requires him to sit like a shield in front of the back four, to put in a foot or two, to block off a runner. He is not quick, but never stops running and never leaves his man. He has an impeccable ability to organize his players for the defensive duties.
Arsenal Legend Ray Parlour – ‘What I like about him is that he's been bossing a few players about and you need players like that’. Flamini is at his best when he covers for the loose balls, and quickly gets it to attackers such as Wilshere, Cazorla and Ozil and his passing accuracy is an astonishing 93% and this stat tells you why Arsenal are scoring goals and winning games.
Arsene Wenger when asked about Aaron Ramsey’s form – ‘you need to appreciate the presence of Flamini, he covers up the defensive end and it gives freedom for Ramsey to make those runs into the box and score goals and play freely and not worry about defending’. Flamini has mastered the dark art of defending with those sneaky fouls, which obviously happened in Italy where he spent 5 years and is introducing it in the English game.
Arsenal always looked fragile in defense against big teams, now Flamini has brought that aspect to the team and he is certainly an important signing to squad. ‘He has accepted the dark role in the team, and has given the balance between attack and defense’ –Arsene Wenger.
Gary Neville –‘ Forget Ozil, Flamini is the signing of the season for Arsenal’, the United legend also identifies the player of Flamini’s caliber is missing in the current United squad, and that one of the reason United are conceding easy goals.
You can go about Flamini’s importance forever this season, the worry for Arsenal is when games come quickly after December, when they take part in Champions League, FA Cup, Community Shiled and Premier league, it is important for players to remain fit, and in the past when Flamini gets injured, he stays injured and Arsenal don’t have depth in their squad to replace him.
It is a tricky period for any manager and it tests any experienced manager like Wenger on house to use his squad quantifiablly. However, while the sun is shining for Arsenal, I look forward for many more of Fabulous Flamini’s performance and hope teams like United are taking notes to sign and mold a midfielder the Flamini way in the transfer window.