Mathieu Flamini is a hound… the defensive-minded midfielder, a well-traveled and accomplished veteran of the modern game, is a ball-chasing terrier, a card magnet and perhaps one of the first Arsenal players any referee may have their meticulous eye on.
He is actually, out of all the card collectors in the Premier League, the cleanest. As per recent statistics compiled by the authorities of the division, there are seven players in England's top tier who have all collected six yellow cards thus far this season: Johnathan Walters, Youssuf Mulumbu, Jonas Olsson, Angel Rangel, Mathieu Debuchy and Wayne Rooney - like Flamini - have all seen yellow six times.
However, out of all them, Flamini has actually committed the least number of fouls and competed in the joint lowest number of games (14).
Should Flamini therefore be treated with a little more leniency?
Recently, the combative Frenchman called on his fellow Gunners to increase their artillery and put up a good fight in every game, for every ball, like the great Arsenal teams before them.
'What you need in any Arsenal side is the fighting spirit and you can see we now have that,' Flamini is quoted by Daily Star to have said. 'Perhaps the physicality has been missing a bit in the past few years.
'But if you want to win leagues and cups, sometimes you have to fight for it, especially when you are playing in the hardest league in the world. We have a very good offensive team but it is so important to be strong defensively as that could make the difference at the end of the season.
'You have to go to places like Newcastle and be prepared to fight before playing your football. Only by doing that can you win,' he concluded.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald
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