Mathieu Flamini has given us a balance between attacking and defending. He is someone who accepts the ‘dark’ role in the team.
“Before, in big games, we looked frail defensively sometimes and he gives us more in that sense.
“I don’t know if he will turn out to be one of the most important signings I have ever made. But I think it was ‘an’ important signing.”
The mesmeric skills of Mesut Ozil were always going to make better YouTube showreels but the incessant energy of Mathieu Flamini is now demanding its own appreciation.
I don’t know if he [Flamini] will turn out to be one of the most important signings I have ever made. But I think it was ‘an’ important signing
It takes all sorts of players and all sorts of victories to win a title and Arsène Wenger’s two major summer signings suggest the economics graduate knows how to diversify his investments.
Ozil is the assist-manager but it is Flamini who wins the ball and gives it him. According to Wenger, it is a role the Frenchman only fully embraced during his spell away from the Club.
“He is 29 now and, at that age, you know better who you are as a player,” said the manager.
“When he first arrived here he wanted to play in a more offensive role but today he knows his qualities and accepts them.
“His attitude convinced me to sign him, because he had proposals from other clubs. But once he decided to wait on us to see if he could sign here, you thought there is something special here.”
Arsenal enjoyed a superb set of results last weekend and moved two points clear at the top of the Premier League. Then they swept aside a much-fancied Napoli side in midweek at Emirates Stadium to take a strangehold on Champions League Group F.
Everything is going swimmingly right now but Wenger knows the tide can turn rapidly and dramatically.
Just look at West Brom, their opponents on Sunday.
Steve Clarke’s side failed to muster a win in their opening four Premier League games and the fixture against fellow strugglers Sunderland on September 21 was billed in some quarters as an eliminator to become the leading contender in the ‘Sack Race’. In the end West Brom ran out 3-0 winners and Paolo do Canio was relieved of his duties at the Stadium of Light later that evening.
Clarke’s side would follow that with a fine win at Manchester United thanks to strikes from new signing Morgan Amalfitano and Saido Berahino, barely 20 and yet to start a Premier League game.
“They scored two great goals,” said Wenger. “The one from Amalfitano was not only about skill, it was about confidence as well. The way he chipped the goalkeeper when he got in front shows that there is something special there for Amalfitano so we will have to keep them quiet.”
Clarke’s men come into this game just below halfway while Wenger’s side were knocked off top spot by Liverpool’s win on Saturday.
In between those revitalising Premier League wins, West Brom were eliminated from the Capital One Cup on penalties by a much-changed Arsenal side.
Club records count that as a win so the tally of consecutive away victories currently stands at 12.
Either way, another on Sunday will make it an undeniable nine in the Premier League, and another new club record.
West Brom: Anelka (doubt – ankle), Anichebe (doubt – groin), Brunt (doubt – groin), Long (doubt – knee), Morrison (doubt – hamstring), Vydra (doubt – hamstring), Sinclair (hamstring), Thorne (knee), Gera (hamstring), Foster (ankle)
Arsenal: Cazorla (ankle), Sanogo (back), Sagna (hamstring), Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), Podolski (hamstring), Walcott (abdomen), Diaby (knee)