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A Tale of Two Midfields

szerue4.jpgIf someone had told me a year ago that Mathieu Flamini would completely shut down Kaka in two legs of a CL knockout round I would have been amazed that he would be even included in the lineup for the matches. Flamini has been defying the odds all season as he has proven himself an invaluable partner to Fabregas in the middle of the field. The fact that he has been able to keep last years captain Gilberto out of the lineup sums up what he has meant to the team. He has pace and can be disruptive to the oppositions attack but I have been most surprised with his decision making and passing ability which has really matured this season. Flamini is often referred to as the ‘Gattuso’ of the Arsenal midfield which is a great compliment but he has shown so much more to his game this year and should no longer be just viewed as just an enforcer.

I completely enjoyed watching the matches between Arsenal and Milan and was impressed by the skill and sportsmanship displayed by both sides. I knew going in that both sides would be strong defensively but the balance tipped in favor for Arsenal through the play of the midfield. The strength of the Milan team during their CL run last year was made to look old and ordinary by the pace and passing of the Arsenal midfield which at times just took over both matches. Pirlo had no impact in either game and Seedorf in the first leg was totally missing. Gattuso and Ambrosini seemed hard pressed to keep up with the pace and wore down as the games progressed. Kaka was visibly shaken and taken off his game with the constant pressure he absorbed while on the ball. The fact that he could not just use his speed to blow through the midfield had him frustrated both matches.

I realized during these games that watching the duo of Fabregas and Flamini I was possibly seeing a partnership that could be special for years to come. Last year I was not concerned with the future of Flamini as an Arsenal player but now believe signing him to a new contract has to be first priority for the team.

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  1. Ferd

    March 7, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    I agree about Sagna. He has been outstanding this year and was a great signing. I honestly think Arsenal may have the best young pair of outside backs in the league.

  2. TheScout

    March 7, 2008 at 10:11 am

    Good post. I was a bit surprised this past summer when it looked like Arsenal might let Flamini go. I thought he was a useful defensive midfielder and they don’t exactly have a surplus of those on hand. The fact that he has kept Gilberto on the bench, like dragonki2012 says, shows that he is worth hanging onto.

    Arsenal were fully deserving of their win over Milan and the Flamini-Fabregas pairing certainly played a big part in that.

    The other thing I noticed was that Sagna’s pace was able to neutralize the wide play of Kaka and others from Milan who attempted to go down the attacking left-flank (defensive right side). I’ve probably become a broken record on this but Sagna was worth every penny Wenger and co. paid for him. One of the best “value” buys of the summer I’d say.

  3. Mike

    March 6, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    hah great photo

  4. Alex Hleb

    March 6, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    flamin flamini

    great post

  5. dragonki2012

    March 6, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    love to photo man.

    Flamini is actually stalling on this contract extension thing, which is bothering me because if he’s able to keep Gilberto on the bench, then you know he’s gotta be worth something.

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