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Flam-Tastic

This is to be a regular feature that i've had in mind since the summer. Frankly, I rarely agree with any of the choices made for Arsenal.com's player of the month, but I still cannot quite shake the injustice of Gilberto not getting player of the season last year. Not to take anything away from the outright winner, Cesc, but Gilberto was head and shoulders above everybody. But hey ho, that's the beauty of football I suppose, it's all about opinions, and that's why sites such as this thrive. Fortunately, I've got me a publishing url, so I have license to shout mine from the rooftops, an opportunity I rarely pass up.

Anyways, Arsenal.com has announced Cesc Fabregas as September's player of the month. Quite understandable really as the diminutive Catalonian produced his usual outstanding performances, littered with a total of four goals and seven assists. Emmanuel Adebayor might also have been a worthy winner with his six goals in September. When contemplating player of the month, Kolo Toure is always in the running (literally, in fact, I often wonder if the guy knows how to stay still, I have visions of him disappearing home from training, only to sit their literally vibrating in his armchair). The Ivorian has been solid as ever this season, but with many doubting his captaincy credentials (well, I did anyway), the armnband has given him a new lease of life as he has cajoled and organised the back four, bringing them forwards with his surging runs and barking instructions at set pieces.

But for me there was only ever one winner for September's player of the month. Nobody has personnified Arsenal's current form better than Mathieu Flamini. It's relatively easy for a footballer to come into a winning team and perform, but I truly believe Matty has been one of the main instigators of our renaissance. With accomplished players such as Denilson, Diaby, Fabregas, Gilberto and latterly Diarra and the young Song waiting in the wings, Flamini indicated a desire to leave Arsenal this summer. In truth, this wasn't an admission that caused shockwaves with this writer. Flamini was always a player who gave his all, humming around the pitch like a wasp in a beer garden. But he lacked presence, he didn't have the positional sense of a Gilberto or a Song, nor the brute force of a Diaby and he was certainly behind Denilson and Fabregas in terms of technique (who isn't?) Consequently, he always gave off the headless chicken vibe and I wasn't particularly troubled by the prospect of his departure.

But Flamini had a change of heart in the summer and decided to fight for his place. Fair enough, I thought, good luck with that! With Gilberto joining the group later than the rest of the squad, Wenger turned to Flamini to be Fabregas's new defensive foil. In the Pompey game, Sagna was forced off after a collision with, ironically, Flamini in a typically committed challenge. Flam played the rest of the game at right back and was immaculate. O.K, perhaps that's where his future is, as a deputy full back. Two weeks later and the testing North London derby, Gilberto had centre half duties to attend to so Flamini played in the middle. He was the best player on the pitch, easily compromising fatty Huddlestone's 'power' and, well, you don't really have to do a lot to stop Jenas do you? If anything, let him have the ball. But this was no flash in the pan, three days later Arsene picked Flamini ahead of Gilberto in the centre of midfield for the home tie with Sevilla. Once again, he was marvellous, his positional sense suddenly having morphed with maturity, as he anticipated passes and broke up play with tenacity. In fact, I doubt he was more than ten yards away from the ball at any one time in the whole nenity minutes. His vibrant kinesis of season's past still present, but a new found intelligence had burrowed it's way into his game.

Another fine performance against Derby is hardly the biggest commendation given the brittle opposition, but he showed great improvement in another area of his game in the away victory at Upton Park. While his commitment has always been admirable, his actual physical power looked to be lacking. But faced with the hard nosed midfield triumvirate of Bowyer, Parker and Noble, Flamini gave as good, probably more, than he got. In turn, this has freed up Cesc Fabregas to play further up the pitch and do the damage in the final third. Cesc is very prepared to bear the physical brunt, but Flamini's army general 'leave em to me guv' stance has provided the perfect foil for Fabregas and his brilliant performances are now being backed up with end product more than at any stage of his career.

The greatest compliment you can pay Flamini right now is that Gilberto, last year's player of the year (officially!) is kicking his heels on the bench. It's not a situation that I disagree with at all. It's easy to feel for Gilberto as he is the model professional and an affable a pro footballer as you're ever likely to see, but sentimentality must never rule team selction and Flamini is worthy of his place right now. It also affirms the importance of having competition for places, Flamini will know he has to maintain his current purple patch with Gilberto, Diarra, Denilson, Diaby and Song salivating noisily in the background. What I particularly like is Flamini's humility, he knows his job and performs it with strict discipline. Win the ball back, give to Cesc, Hleb or Rosicky, all of whom are more likely to play a defence splitting pass or trouble a goalkeeper from range. But with the confidence brimming from him, I think Flamini's technique has improved too, he now looks comfortable spreading the play to either full back, or searching out a running striker. For those reasons Mathieu Flamini wins my player of the month award. Unfortunately, this isn't an award that will be presented to him on the pitch, nor is it sponsored by some faceless corporation. In fact, it doesn't even carry a grotesque piece of mantlepiece fodder that would not look out of place in an Amsterdam sex shop. But for what it's worth Matty, appreciated mate. Keep it up.LD.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday October 5 2007

Time: 1:33PM

Your Comments

Amazing how quickly opinion changes. I don't think too many people would have batted an eye lid had he left during the summer and now he's the new Ray Parlour. Just goes to show what a run in the team and a little bit of patience can do. Perhaps the same patience can now be shown to Walcott and Song,
d11gunner
I agree d11, and I'm more than happy to admit that I was amongst his doubters. I hope that this isn't just form but something more consistent, if he keeps playing like this we have one hell of a player on our hands. As it is he has been like a new signing. I also agree with regards Walcott, it's always too much. He set up one goal on the first game of last season and everyone went OTT, now everyone is deriding him. There is enough pressure on him from the vultures in the media without our supporters indulging in the 'ya-boo' culture that permeates punditry nowadays.
Little Dutch
Great article. I have to admit I wasn't the biggest Flam-ster fan before this season, and literally breezed through the newspaper reports of him leaving without much of a second glance during the Summer. But his form of late has been simply superb, and I do now feel for Gilberto - because it's going to take a hell of a lot of work to remove Matt from his position now... in my opinion.
grovesy14
Excellent! Great headline too.. Nice to see the praises being rightfully sung for the young Frenchman who was once an underdog. As has been said, hopefully other 'underdogs' are given a chance before being berated. If any player exemplified Arsene's "It's all in the mind" theory then it's our Matty. Did something significant change in his skill over ONE summer? Nope - his skill 'increased' because of his mentality. It's one of those changes a bit like agreeing to separate with your girlfriend (or boyfriend) - then you decide to stay and fight with a renewed attitude, the result being a spectacular success or a total catastrophe. We got the right result, and its a joy to behold.
Andy-bayor
No intention to blow my trumpet here, I am glad I have been among some very few here who stood by him all the while. Albeit voicing concern generally on the lack of height of our players which of course included Flamster, I always said we need a true ball winner in the midfield who could tackle and Flamster for his high work ethic is the right man for the job. Keep it up Matt!
Joe_@**
What really marks out a player of the month, or a season even, is the extent to which he exceeds expectations of him. Few expected much from Flamini and many of us didn't even expect him to still be here. In fact he is doing for us what ManU hoped the 17m Hargreaves would be doing for them - but isn't.
Amos.
I still doubt him!!! I would play Bert instead of Flamini just the same way I would play Gallas over Senderos and Lehmann over Almunia. Could Flamini man mark a Rooney or Ruquilme? If we were playing ManUsa or Liverpool this weekend how many of you would play Flamini instead of Gilberto? IMO our strongest 11 is Jens,Sanga,Toure,Gallas,Clichy,Hleb,Cesc,Bert,Rosicky,Ade,RVP with Diarra,Denilson,Bendtner,Flamini,Almunia the subs
gunner1981
I owuld still play Flamini, Seville are the equal of Liverpool or United. I agree, longer term I wouldn't say Flam's a dead cert for the whole season, but on current form I would go with Flam for any game just now.
Little Dutch
I hold my hand high as one of hard-line criticizers of Matty Flamini last this time last year, but I am more than willing to eat a piece of humble pie and admit that Flamster has been the true engine and the unsung hero of Arsenal's good start of the season. I wholeheartedly agree that Gilberto was by far the best choice for last year's Arsenal player of the year award and it was a surprise to me that people overlooked him. Great piece LD - and Flam has my vote too.
G4L
I wouldn't say Sevilla are the equal of the premiership champions?! But yes, we'd still have to play Flam, and for the smug factor, i'm pleased i wanted him to stay, always been fond of Matty since our CL run :)
AFC85Lew
Seville use Kanoute and their wing backs for most of their attacking play what I am concerned about is when we face a team that has a striker who drops deep like Rooney or an attacking midfielder like Gerard.
gunner1981
Gerrard never does anything against us, but Rooney is a pertinent point. I would say Seville are certainly the equivalent of a side in the PL top four. In my opinion, la liga is a better league than the Prem and Seville have proved themselves in that division in the last two years. It's just that we made them look very average when we played them. They missed la liga by the narrowest of margins and would probably have won it had they not been involved in two cup finals, whereas Madrid were out of everything by February.
Little Dutch
agree with gunner1981. for me, the best 11 is Jens, Sanga,Toure,Gallas,Clichy, Hleb, Cesc, Bert, Rosicky, Ade, RVP. hope Wenger will get a better keeper for next season. we won't win big prizes (PL and UCL) with Almunia. i hope i am wrong.
fcdematthew
btw, Flamster's contract runs out next summer.
fcdematthew
Its great to be able to hold this debate!! For the past couple of seasons an injury destroyed us - now we have cover and competition for places which keeps everyone on their toes.
gunner1981
Precisely, when Vieira left this looked our weakest area. Now I would honestly be comfortable with just about any midfield combination available to us. Diarra's performance v Newcastle was immense and I look forward to seeing what he has to offer. Diaby has raised his game since scoring against Derby, Denilson is top drawer. The list goes on and competition will only keep all these players at the top of their game. Realistically, we won't be able to keep them all happy and one at least will fall by the wayside next summer. But I say let battle commence, bring it on, a bit of Darwinist competition in the Gunners' midfield will benefit us no end.
Little Dutch
What I've always liked about Flamini is the way he celebrates his goals with the crowd. And I have to say from watching his interaction with the rest of the team, he seems like a real team player, always genuinely pleased for another scorer. I think his kind of engine and physical, fighting spirit may be just what we need in the PL. In the past, I think he's suffered from trying too hard to impress with a great pass like a Cesc. Now, as LD says, he sticks to his strengths but is actually capable of spraying the ball if he needs to. One of those players that is great for the squad - not just the first 11.
Gooner_Vin
another great one LD I agree flam has been doing the dirty job better than anyone
afghenry
let's not forget the chances he's taken in the last few weeks, shots from range unlucky to not score (whereas his midfield counterpart cannot miss). In addition to versatility and workmanship Mathieu has shown a keen nose for goal, often against the bigger sides (such as the first against Liverpool last season).
JakeB
Can I also take this opportunity whilst on the topic to reiterate my previous proclamations that Mathieu, especially during his LB stint 18months ago, tends to look very much like Noel Gallagher when his hair is short (must be the eyebrows).
JakeB
Is it just me, or can anybody see the Flamster and Bert being interchangable and, even better, the PERFECT subs. I mean, one or the other in the starting team, and the benched guys, say Bert, who can play CM or in the backs. Those 2 are the ultimate in versatility aren't they?
darinb007
I think his good form has shocked everyone lets hope it is permanent.
AB_Arsenal
When he expressed his desire to leave the club, i wasnt too fussed. We had adequate cover and, in my opinion, Flamini was only going to stop Diaby or Denilson's progression. How that has changed. His typical industrious performances have now a touch of class about them. No longer is he the headless chicken, but his passing and vision have seemed to grow immensely. I commend the Flamster for staying on and fighting for his spot, and now the just rewards are paying of.
Aussie Gooner
Good call on player of the month, LD. I always liked Flamini as a player for his work rate and commitment, though he was always going to be repaceable in the summer as far as I was concerned. Now, things have changed to the extent that he is better than Gilberto at the moment. Its an excellent sign that the team is being picked on current form, rather than experience/reputation. Sends out a strong signal to Lehmann and Gallas that their places should not be taken for granted, as we have players who can take their position easily.
prits
flam's hard running and marking of key players in midfield has allowed more space and time for fabs. we've already seen what fabs can do with the added freedom. so well done i say to flam and keep it up. he is the perfect partner to fabs at the moment.
supersof
LD and others I agree that Flamster has been Flam-tastic this month and he has exceeded the expectations and proving a perfect foil for Fabs plays upfront, but the awards should recognize the best player on the pitch for Arsenal(even though they are expected to perform very highly week in and week out). It should be Fabregas as he has been the guy who unlocked the defenses with killer passes and if that doesn't work put the ball back in net. Also he is the fulcrum that operated the Arsenal orchestra. when he is off color we have won (like West Ham match but the buzz is not really there) so for that reason alone he should be Player of the month. Just because u expect the excellent performances of him does not mean he doesn't deserve the player of the month. The only problem with Ade is that he is still missing those easy chances. I hope he buries them inside the net oftener than what he is doing now. Flamini is definitely a deserved front runner along with Kolo for the awards. but there can be only one winner,and Cesc would be my choice. Ofcourse everyone is allowed to have different opinions and that is why it is an opinion :)
questforavalon
 

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