Archive for September 21st, 2007

Fiery Flamini is undroppable at the moment

Add comment September 21st, 2007


This Summer, it was widely accepted that Mathieu Flamini was leaving Arsenal.  Unhappy at falling behind Abou Diaby and Denilson in the pecking order, the frenchman looked to exploit new UEFA rules to buy out his contract and make himself a free agent.  He was linked with clubs in Italy, Spain, and the Premier League, but as that transfer window swung shut it became increasingly apparent that the pitbull midfielder was not going anywhere.  Flamini says:

“It is true I was close to leaving because I did not play enough, so I spoke to the coach and we had a good discussion.  Now I am here and am very happy to be here. Arsenal is a big club with high ambitions, so the competition is here – but it will make you better. The manager told me he had confidence in me and I said, ‘All right I am going to stay and I will prove that I can play’.”

So far, he’s been good to his word.

With Gilberto still recovering from his Copa America adventures and Abou Diaby out injured, Flamini was handed a chance in the first Premiership game of the season against Fulham.  Since then, he’s started every game for the club.

Flamini is under no illusions about his role – to liberate Cesc Fabregas:

“I am doing an important job because I have to and I try to get the maximum of the ball.  I am trying to do the maximum for players like Cesc and Alex Hleb and Tomas Rosicky.   This season Cesc is a bit more free, playing a little bit higher than me and so he has more chance to score and more chance to give some passes and I think that is important.  It’s important for a player to have time to play because it gives you confidence and you can have an understanding with your partner.”

To be fair to Flamini, the way he is playing at the moment makes him far more than just Fabregas’ foil.  His boundless energy and tenacious tackling show why the squad have nicknamed him “Gattuso”, whilst his aerial ability and passing have improved considerably – against Sevilla Flamini launched one forty yard pass that the aforementioned Fabregas would be proud of.

Gilberto has now, of course, returned, though the need for Brazilian to fill in at the back has negated the neccessity for Arsene to make a decision between his two holding midfielders.  Certainly Fabregas is a guaranteed starter, and the battle is to establish who provides the more effective partner.

I’m a huge fan of Gilberto’s intelligent positional play, but in a team whose game is based on passing and movement, perhaps Flamini’s ability to get around the pitch might give him the edge in Arsene’s eyes.  It’s the kind of healthy competition that can only benefit the side.

With Philippe Senderos one of six potential absentees for the game with Derby, Gilberto could well be needed at centre-back yet again, allowing Flamini to continue in midfield.  Confidence is sky high in the squad at the moment, and for whatever reason that makes me feel very cautious.  What we need on Saturday is concentration and professionalism against a side who, in beating Newcastle, showed they’re not as far off the pace as everyone predicted.

Finally, I urge you to read this interview with Managing Director Keith Edelman.  For the most part it’s reassuring stuff, but I’m not sure about the following passage:

“When they (Red&White) made their first purchase of shares on August 30th, they publicly stated that they would not make an offer for shares in the Club.  This statement effectively precludes Red&White Holdings from making an offer for all the shares of the Company for a six month period (subject to certain exceptions).”

Now, it’s not for me to tell Keith Edelman how to do his job, but this “subject to certain exceptions” phrase is pretty important.  In fact, you can read those “certain exceptions” here, under “Note 1”.  As much as we would like to think this is effectively a dead story until March 2008, I very much doubt that is the case.

Arsene’s press conference today should tell us a lot more about team news for the weekend.  Until then, have a good day.

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