Mathieu Flamini was once again absent from the base of the Arsenal midfield as they received a pummelling against title rivals, only being introduced with Chelsea already four goals to the good.
Previously his teammates had been robbed of his galvanising midfield influence by suspension against Liverpool, with a 5-1 Anfield mauling the result.
With the Gunners 2/1 outsiders to beat Manchester City on home turf seven days on from their latest setback, they would be stark, raving bonkers to start without him again.
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The Frenchman’s summer return on a free transfer may have been greeted with little fanfare but his positive effect on the side quickly became apparent.
Arsenal benefitted vastly from his passion, commitment and leadership as he patrolled the space in front of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, beginning his second spell at the club with eight wins and a draw in his first nine showings.
However, it seems that Flamini’s ability to badger the complacency out of his colleagues has encouraged Arsene Wenger to use him as a tactical substitute, reserved for when the going gets tough.
He has started just 21 of the Gunners’ 46 games so far this term, including just one of their last six outings.
It’s a spate of omissions that comes in spite of Arsenal having a superior record when the 30-year-old is in the starting XI.
They’ve won 71 per cent the games in which he’s featured from the off, losing 19 per cent of those fixtures.
Without the benefit of his bustle, brio and belligerence as of minute one, they’ve only claimed maximum reward 56 per cent of them time, losing 24 per cent.
Arsenal may be able to justify 21/50 favouritism by turning over Swansea in midweek minus Flamini’s presence, but making the same mistake against the Citizens would prove disastrous.