Arsene Wenger’s heart would have sunk when he saw Mathieu Flamini pick up a groin injury against Crystal Palace last weekend, which deprives the Gunners of their best holding midfielder.
The Frenchman has been outstanding during his second spell with the North London club and any games he misses over the next two to three weeks are going to leave the side at a big disadvantage.
No other player does the dirty jobs around the pitch for Arsenal more effectively than Flamini, who seems to love nothing better than getting stuck in, winning back possession and then moving the ball on quickly to more creative and attacking players.
Arsenal have some very important fixtures coming up in the league, most notably a home game against Liverpool before a trip to Old Trafford to take on Premier League champions Manchester United.
Sandwiched in between those games is a Champions League trip to Borussia Dortmund, which could be one of the most difficult games the Gunners play this season.
Those three games will come and go by November 10, which means if Flamini’s groin problem keeps him out for three weeks as opposed to two, it’s the Premier League clash against Southampton and the home game against Marseille which could mark his potential return.
It would be fitting if Arsene Wenger held him back for the Marseille game, which would allow him to return against the club where he's hinted he wants to finish his playing career, having started his senior career with the French side.
“You should never say never. I did my apprenticeship there. Of course it’s the club of my heart. I’ve always stayed close to it, because I’m in contact with Jose Anigo, someone who knows me very well,” said the midfielder back in September.
However, Flamini’s impact at Arsenal this season has been so big, it would be remarkable if Wenger didn’t get him back into the team as quickly as possible and the match against Southampton on November 23 is a real possibility.
Arsenal are aided by the fact there is another break for international football between their game against Manchester United and their home match against Southampton, providing two weeks that would allow Flamini to recover and prepare for that clash against the Saints.
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