Is Flamini more influential now than in his first stint at Arsenal?

The French midfielder has been in good form for the north London club since re-signing in the summer.

With the summer signing of Mesut Ozil, Arsenal made a few waves in the transfer market and have since powered their way to the top of the Premier League table and through to the knockout stages of the Champions League.

However, another summer addition in the form of Mathieu Flamini’s return to the north London club must be touted as a major reason for the Gunners’ impressive early season displays.

Arsene Wenger’s men were beaten 2-0 by Napoli last night but still qualified for the Champions League knockout rounds, with Flamini playing a considerable role in ensuring the Gunners’ path to the next stage was assured.

With midfield partner Mikel Arteta getting himself sent off, there was a five-minute spell that the English visitors looked on the ropes slightly, before regaining their calm and seeing out the game.

One of the main reasons for this was the assuring figure of Flamini in front of the side’s back four, who broke up opposition play, shouted orders at team-mates and acted as a talismanic figure.

In his first stint at the north London club, Flamini grew in influence as the years progressed, and in his final season at Arsenal was a key man for the Gunners.

It feels like despite a five-year sabbatical in Italy, the no-nonsense midfielder has continued where he left off and is once more an important player in Arsenal’s chances of claiming silverware this season.

The difference between now and then however is the fact that the club do not have any other enforcers or designated defensive midfielders in the current squad.

With Alex Song departing north London for Barcelona last summer, Arsenal have been calling out for a holding midfielder, with Flamini fitting the bill.

In his first stint at the club between 2004 and 2008, Arsenal had other defensive midfielders on their books such as Patrick Vieira, Edu, Gilberto Silva and Song, with Abou Diaby fit also. This time round as Arsenal’s only recognised enforcer, Flamini’s role in Arsenal’s title charge cannot be understated.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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