Mesut Özil cost £42m while Mathieu Flamini was brought in for free, but on Sunday against Stoke it was the 29-year-old Frenchman who stole the man of the match plaudits at the Emirates.
Sadly for Flamini, a minority of Arsenal fans refused to give the midfielder the credit he deserved against the Potters as they appear to remain negative towards the player after he walked out of Arsenal five years ago seeking more money.
Flamini best player on the pitch against Mark Hughes’ men. He had a knack of always appearing in the right place at the right time and, contrary to his stereotype, Flamini kept the ball fantastically.
Active and aggressive in the centre of the pitch, Flamini gave the Gunners some much needed bite and robustness in midfield, and Stoke were unable to get past the spoiler time after time in the match.
In his analysis article in Monday’s Telegraph, ex-Arsenal striker Alan Smith write:
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.
Watch Mathieu Flamini’s individual highlights v Stoke below, together with the thoughts of one Arsenal fan who seemed unwilling to accept that Flamini was the Gunners’ man of the match.