Is this man Arsene Wenger’s best signing for Arsenal in recent years?

Off the back of a great
win against Napoli on Tuesday which included one of the best 30 minutes of
football I’ve seen us play in years, I am on top of the world as I’m sure all
of us Gooners are.

So, in keeping with the happy-go-lucky mood, this week is all about
team spirit, coherent performances and how much of this winning mentality is
down to our French enforcer, Mathieu Flamini.

Watching the Arsenal team play recently has made me fall even deeper
in love with this football club and the sport in general which I thought was
nigh-on impossible! I love the fact we’re in great form, I love the fact that
we’re playing attractive, high-tempo football and above all I love the fact
that these players are playing with smiles plastered across their faces. I
genuinely get the impression that they are getting as much of a buzz out of
this run of form as us fans are and that in turn makes me even happier. It’s
almost like the happiness is growing exponentially and by November my cheek
muscles will hurt too much to even talk. In fact, as I’m writing this I am
smiling! Are you smiling yet? You were smiling before you clicked on the link?!
Well hats off to you, Sir/Madam!

Back to the team… It’s this team spirit that has been touched on
in interviews by a number of players that I have always valued as such an
integral part of success and more specifically the journey to success. Wenger
himself has highlighted both the importance of a positive atmosphere and the
fact that we lacked it last season.

“What is positive is that
the team plays better when the environment is positive. We played in a
skeptical environment last year and that does not create a great level of
confidence.” – Arsene Wenger

I was saying on Twitter the other day how I am a believer of ‘good
vibes’ in football and the positive effect they can have. It seems Arsene
shares this view and recognises it as one of the main reasons why this team
continues to perform so well consistently. It just shows that sometimes it
really is worth staying positive or at least looking on the bright side of
things and trying to build upon them. From March onwards that seems to be what
Wenger and his side decided to do and it is certainly paying dividends.

A good team spirit and strong relationships also leads to a greater
understanding between players out on the pitch that in turn leads to the
beautifully cohesive football that we’ve been seeing of late. In the first half
against Napoli this fast-paced, fluid football was in full flow and a truly joyous
spectacle to witness. Mesut Ozil’s first goal for Arsenal summed up our first
half performance: effortlessly sublime.

But it’s not just the attacking side to Arsenal’s game that is
enhanced by good team spirit. No, it also aids the defensive play and the ability
to control a game, which we also saw in the second half against Napoli. Even
when the opposing team showed somewhat of a resurgence, they were kept quiet
and we made sure that we got the job done. This side to our game is probably
the most improved one of late and I would say that it is equally, if not more,
important than the attacking side

Talking of the more defensive side of things, I’d like to bring
Mathieu Flamini into the equation. You see, as much as I may give the
impression of it being so, it’s not all happy-clappy rainbows and unicorns that
makes a team successful. It’s also grit and true fighting spirit, which are two
things that Mathieu embodies and I believe has instilled in the team this
season. In my opinion, the signing of Flamini was just another Wenger
masterstroke in the transfer market. Initially I saw him as a good buy who
would suffice as cover for Mikel Arteta, but now I see him as all but
irreplaceable in that defensive midfield role. A revelation? Yes, I think so. I
say that because right from the off he gave the impression he had unfinished
business here at Arsenal and was going to give his all for the team. He
practically begged Wenger to take him back and Wenger admitted as much himself!
If a player is that desperate to fight for the gun on his chest then sign him
up, I say!

‘The Corsican’ as some call our hard-nut
Flamini has spoken about the team adding this fighting spirit to their list of
qualities recently:

“I
think everyone knew Arsenal have a lot of qualities, but this year we are
showing we have the fighting spirit, everyone is helping each other and it
makes the difference because of course in a season you have some good periods
and some difficult periods.” – Mathieu Flamini

That’s the sort of thing you want to hear as
a fan. For me, grit, determination and not settling for second best are the
very foundations of any successful sports team. The Arsenal seem to be
rediscovering those things with Flamini at the forefront, defending his
teammates (yes, I refer of course to the “Touch him (Jack) again and I will
blind you” incident), getting all up in the ref’s grill and running like a mad
dog. Flamini may not be Mr. Nice-Guy on the pitch, but he is certainly Mr.
Phwoar-We-Really-Needed-Him!

With this high morale, fighting team spirit
and positive atmosphere I feel like the Arsenal are teetering on the edge of
yet more greatness. This is a wonderful club and it’s time to seize the chance
to put ourselves back at the summit of English football! Come on you Gunners!

P.S. Keep smiling, you’ll live longer.

Thanks for reading,

Billy
Dunmore


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