In the first of a new series that shines a light on the unheralded Premier League players vital to the successes of their teams it’s Mathieu Flamini who receives the nod from news.bwin.com/en/.
While Mesut Ozil is the poster boy of Arsenal’s continuing credible start to the campaign, his fellow summer signing will have an equally important part to play if they’re to land the rapidly shrinking 13/2 about a first league title since 2004.
Where he fits in
Since leaving the Emirates at the end of the 2007/08 campaign to the chagrin of many Gooners Arsenal have never quite replaced Flamini and the work he did for the team.
Alex Song and Abou Diaby have been touted as filling the gap in deep midfield, but neither has matched the kind of single-mindedly defensive presence in the Gunners’ midfield that Flamini emanated during the standout campaign that turned out to be his farewell.
His return to the fold is manna from heaven for the already redoubtable Gunners’ central-defensive pairing of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker, who will know they can rely on the 29-year-old for formidable extra protection when the corridor of uncertainty between midfield and defence is brought into play.
What he offers
In the first three-and-a-bit matches of his second spell in north London the former Marseille man has shown exactly why Arsene Wenger decided to snap him up after he’d spent the summer training with the side to keep fit following his release by Milan.
In 317 minutes of football in 2013/14 he’s yet to be dribbled by an opposition player and averages more interceptions and a better rate of completed passes than any other Gunner outside of the back four to have played more than a single game.
Furthermore, evidence of the way in which he bolsters the Arsenal defence can be seen in the fact that of the three goals they have conceded with him on the pitch this term two were penalty kicks.
Yet it’s the intensity he brings to the side that’s perhaps as important as any other aspect of his game.
Having announced himself back into the English top flight with a hard-to-condone two-footed lunge after coming on as a second-half substitute against Tottenham this can sometimes go too far.
However, his vocal, urging presence in the Arsenal engine room and all-action style are much welcomed in a side that has become parodied as too cerebral for it’s own good.