Mathieu Flamini has found it hard to get a start this season, so when Arsene Wenger announced that he would be lining up against Spurs in the Capital One Cup, many were dubious.
Fortunately, we were forced to choke on our doubts as the Flame went on to score two goals, leading us to a 2-1 victory and knocking out our closest rivals.
The reason Wenger chose to rotate the squad in such a way, the boss admitted, was because of Mikel Arteta’s lack of playing time.
“First of all I wanted to rotate the team a little bit and he had worked very [hard] recently,” he said. “I saw in training he was focused and had come back to a good level and I also thought I wanted to strengthen a bit the midfield with Arteta who had not played in a long time. I wanted a second player to strengthen a bit defensively and that meant Flamini and Arteta together gave some defensive guarantees.”
The decision turned out to be a good one. Arteta hung back, almost like the metronome, to keep everything ticking over in midfield, while Flamini could move forward a bit and play a slightly more advanced role – something he doesn’t get to do often these days.
The gamble obviously played off, as the midfielder consistently found himself in the right place at the right time, resulting in two goals.