Flamini is a worker, a fighter and a winner
Two seasons ago Mathieu Flamini showed everyone he has a character to believe in.
With left back after left back after makeshift left back falling injured (Cole, Clichy, Cygan, Lauren etc) Flamini was forced into this position and he showed fantastic determination and battling qualities in every performance as Arsenal recovered from a poor first half of the season to make the Champions League final and brilliantly rescue fourth place.
Flamini typified Arsenal's comeback that season by giving his all and performing very well in an unaccustomed position. At the time I mentioned on EFT how I liked the way Flamini played with his shirt sleeves rolled-up - like he was a guy at work ready to put in an energetic shift and with determination would get the job done. And this is the character he has massively injected into Arsenal this year - that of a worker and a fighter.
At the pre-season Emirates Cup the guy who drove into the box and executed the opening goal of the opening match against Paris St Germain was Flamini. Arsenal won the Emirates Cup and then went to compete in the Amsterdam Tournament where after a solid win against Lazio they played against Ajax who had a clear strategy of making numerous late and bad tackles. Significantly for me after every terrible tackle the first Arsenal player to run in and remonstrate with the offender and show support for his fallen teammate was Flamini.
I liked to see this - Flamini was not going to stand-by after watching a teammate get flattened, and his example meant that other Arsenal players would quickly follow him and show that this new young Arsenal team were united in their determination not to be bullied into submission. Arsenal won the Amsterdam tournament with a late van Persie strike and after two pre-season cup wins Flamini was assured a starting place for the season.
The young Frenchman hasn't looked back by becoming an integral member of this third-generation team. He sets the tone for hard work and fighting spirit that his teammates latch onto and emulate. But this is not all - he is a good passer of the ball and is an able finisher.
On Saturday, Arsenal has a tough-looking away match against Villa that was made even more tough by conceding an early goal. The Gunners then started to find their passing rhythm and crucially were able to capitalise early on their momentum through a brilliant left-footed strike by the right-footed Flamini. His goal celebration is now becoming trade-mark - punching the air with anger and determination as if he has just righted a wrong.
It shows about his character that there is no posing with Flamini - this guy is on the pitch to work and win. Arsenal went onto score a second and gain a good win at a difficult venue - and for me it was really appropriate and unsurprising that it was Fighter Flamini who initiated this comeback victory.
His decisive contribution underlined again that it is massive that Arsenal did not lose Flamini in the summer. I really like what he brings to the team: he is a worker, a fighter, and a winner. And when Owen Hargreaves is trading on the transfer market at £20m I can only be impressed by the fact that we recruited who I consider a better player at between 5-10% the price - demonstrating yet again that Wenger is a master at recruiting excellent potential at great value for money.