Monday, October 1, 2007

Flamini Is Finally Stepping Up

Arsene Wenger's undeniable genius was enough to earn him a contract extension until the 2010/11 season, and it's not hard to see why the Arsenal board were happy to keep him at the club. Under Wenger's tutelage, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, and Robert Pires were all transformed from struggling players into terrifying French wonders.

However, Wenger doesn't do everything right, and many Arsenal fans thought that Mathieu Flamini was one of his few mistakes. When Arsenal signed the 20 year-old midfielder from Marseille, he had only featured in 14 games for the team, and while he was unproven, the club had faith in Wenger, and expected great things of his new signings.

Fast forward two years to last season. Flamini was still seeing some time on the field, but many criticized his performances, applauding only his incredible work-rate. Flamini was a good squad player, but no more, and many were disappointed by him.

This season, however, it seems that Flamini is finally stepping up. Maybe it's that he's no longer under the shadow of Henry. Maybe he is trying to prove to the naysayers that Arsenal can indeed challenge for the title. Perhaps he has simply seen that Gilberto's place isn't set in stone.

Whatever the reason, Flamini is finally coming of age, and in recent games he has been chosen over Gilberto to partner Cesc Fabregas in the central midfield. It's not hard to see why, as his work-rate, tough-tackling, and team spirit are all great qualities for a defensive midfielder.

His inclusion has also given him great confidence, and he even tried a few long range shots against Robert Green in last Saturday's game against West Ham.

Mathieu Flamini has been consistently underrated by Arsenal fans, but that was unsurprising seeing as how he hadn't been performing as well as he could have until now. I still expect improvement from his current form, but even the way that he is playing now, I'm starting to think that selling Gilberto may not be a horrible idea.

I look forwards to this lad's next few years at the club.