Alan Smith: Mathieu Flamini just as important as Mesut Özil to Arsenal

Alan Smith believes Mathieu Flamini is proving himself to be just as important to Arsenal as Mesut Özil this season

arsene wenger
Arsene Wenger re-signed Mathieu Flamini last month Photo: The Sport Review

Alan Smith believes Mathieu Flamini is proving himself to be just as important to Arsenal as club-record signing Mesut Özil this season.

The Gunners re-signed the Frenchman on a three-year contract earlier in the summer after the 29-year-old midfielder was released by AC Milan at the end of last season.

Flamini, who left Arsenal to move to Serie A back in 2008, has been thrown straight into action for the Gunners following injuries to Mikel Arteta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

And former Arsenal striker Smith feels that the midfielder has already proved his worth to the north Londoners.

“He did not cost £42m, he cannot change a game with an ingenious flick of the boot and there will never be crowds gathered outside the Emirates Stadium to pose in their Arsenal shirts with his name on the back,” Smith told the Telegraph.

“Nevertheless, Mathieu Flamini is just as valuable to his team right now as Mesut Özil, the superstar signing who has generated so much excitement in London N5.

“Yes, Özil had a hand in all three goals against Stoke City with his accurate corner and free-kick deliveries. It is so easy to admire a talent like that, even though there is much more to come from the little German.

“But football is about balance and contrasts, about doing the dirty work as well as taking the glory. In this regard, Flamini is perfectly suited, just as he was perfectly suited to this hard-fought contest that never quite found a pattern or shape.

“You could see it from his body language – the Frenchman is loving the specific role assigned to him just now, the one that requires him to sit stoically in front of the back four, to put in a foot or two, to block off a runner, to generally act as a human shield.

“Flamini is a sleeves-rolled-up type of scuffler, the sort who never stops running or indeed talking. His ability to organise, in fact, comes as a welcome addition to a team that hasn’t always been vocal enough in the past. It could be far too quiet when things needed to be said.”

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