The French midfielder returned to Arsenal, for his second stint as a Gunner, on a free transfer from AC Milan in the summer of 2013, and although record signing and fan favourite Mesut Ozil has stolen all the headlines this season, Flamini’s performances have been on par and equally impressive.
Mathieu Flamini first signed for Arsenal in 2004 from Ligue 1 side Marseille, Flamini then went on to play over 100 games for the Gunners and scored on 7 occasions. Flamini left Arsenal in May 2008, when he signed for Italian giants AC Milan. He made 96 appearances and scored 7 goals for the club, but when his contract ended and AC Milan failed to offer him a new one he decided to head back to North London and train with Arsenal in August, at first it was reported that he was just there to “maintain his fitness” but when Arsene Wenger came calling for a second time the French international put pen to paper and signed for Arsenal on 29th August 2013 just 2 weeks into the Premier League season.
Flamini has been ever present this season for Arsenal and has played a part in every league, cup and European game that the club have played. Arsene Wenger’s addition of Flamini has bulked the midfield up giving them the physicality that maybe they have lacked in previous seasons to become a real title challenge.
Arsenal’s dominance in midfield is built from Flamini’s work rate and passion to win games. Flamini has a massive influence on the Arsenal players and plays every game as if he is wearing the captain’s armband; you can see in the games he’s played this season that he commands the midfield and orchestrates the way Arsenal play. Having Flamini in and around the training ground is having a huge influence on the other players and you can see that him and Ozil really are getting the best out of every player at the club (having also seen a different Aaron Ramsey this season being clinical in front of goal and becoming a key member of the first team).
Flamini’s performances this season have been consistently at the highest level. He made his debut for the second time in a home win against North London rivals Tottenham, where he came on as sub for Jack Wilshere and showed real passion and desire to take the points, and saw his side win 1-0 and from then on Flamini has played a vital part in the team. Flamini plays as a defensive midfielder for Arsenal, sitting in front of the defence but just behind the attacking midfield firing line. Flamini has been everywhere this season getting behind every tackle and being sure of every pass, he has even filed in at left back when Arsenal travelled to Newcastle in a tricky away game but also came out winners and remained top of the table.
Mathieu Flamini has made 11 starts for the Gunners so far this season and has appeared as a sub on 4 occasions getting on the scoresheet just once, during the away 3-0 win to Cardiff City. Not only does Flamini possess the dying art of a hard old-school tackle he has the lovely ability of being able to pick a pass and no doubt this would of had the stingy Arsene Wenger smiling when he picked him up on a free transfer. Flamini’s passing accuracy this season stands at an impressive 92% out of 617 passes; Flamini has found another Arsenal player on 570 occasions making him one of the most accurate players in the league.
I believe that Flamini has been an unsung hero for Arsenal this season and it is vital that Arsenal and Arsene Wenger can keep him fit if they are to continue to challenge for the Premier League title in the new year. He keeps things basic and simple and he does it well, which is why he finds himself in the starting 11 every week. Arsene Wenger put his trust in Flamini by offering him a contract at Arsenal and sitting at top of the table and conceding the fewest goals so far this season Flamini really is earning his keep. If Flamini can continue to motivate the Arsenal side and maybe with the addition of another striker in January, I have no worries that Arsenal will be in amongst it at the end of season battle to get there names on the Premier League trophy.