The last time Arsenal challenged for the title was in the 2007-2008 season and Mathieu Flamini was one of the main reasons why.
Placed in a defensive midfieder role, Flamini thrived alongside Cesc Fabregas and the pair formed a very successful partnership as the Frenchman’s tenacious and bullish midfield work was balanced beautifully by Fabregas’s brilliant and technically sound creative work.
Unfortunately, for many reasons, the title was not meant for Arsenal that year and neither was Champions League glory as they exited at the hands of Liverpool in the quarter finals. I remember watching the game and thinking to myself that when Flamini was taken off injured Arsenal looked a lot lighter in midfield and they ultimately paid the price.
The following season Flamini took his boots and headed for Italy where he signed for AC Milan and has faded into obscurity. Except, of course, for an embarrassing encounter with Spurs assistant coach Kevin Bond a few seasons ago.
I don’t think it is too bold to say that if Flamini had stayed and continued to develop his partnership with Fabregas Arsenal would no longer be waiting to end their trophy drought.
Jerry Van Wav