Statistical Review of Mathieu Flamini's Performances This Season

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Statistical Review of Mathieu Flamini's Performances This Season
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

There was a time when Arsene Wenger had a squad that was heralded as one of the greatest football teams to ever grace the Premier League.

The team had the English grit and determination of Sol Campbell and Ashley Cole, the French flamboyance and panache of Robert Pires and Thierry Henry, the Dutch intelligence of the god himself, Dennis Bergkamp, and a collection of superstars that made Arsenal a major force to be reckoned with. And in the middle of the park proudly stood Patrick Vieira and Gilberto Silva, two iron-clad rulers in the heart of midfield.

That era was on the decline and Arsene Wenger brought Mathieu Flamini and Lassana Diarra to the limelight. But the latter wanted more playing time and jumped ship when Portsmouth came calling. The former forged a telepathic understanding with Cesc Fabregas and after enjoying his best top-flight football campaign, he went for the riches of Italy, which gave him a pantomime villain status.

His heir, Alexandre Song, arrived at the club as an unearthed gem with a lot of rough edges but he had enough game time and his improvement showcased Wenger’s alchemy, as the Cameroonian gem was changed from lead to gold.

Following the departure of club talisman, Robin van Persie, to Manchester United, Alex Song shockingly followed suit to Barcelona, and the fans were clearly disappointed but hoped for an ideal replacement. Instead of going to the transfer market to sign a recognized holding midfielder, the manager opted for his vice-captain to take one for the team, which he did.

Mikel Arteta isn’t your average defensive midfielder. But what he lacked in guile, strength and being a natural enforcer, he made up for with his passing play, dictating tempo, vast experience and maturity. With Arteta as Arsenal’s holding midfielder in the entirety of the 2012/13 campaign, the Gunners saw an inspirational leader that was willing to give his all to the team and he popped up a couple of times with those converted penalties.

But there was a downside to Arteta’s meteoric rise as Arsenal’s holding midfielder. He was aging, and he had a lot of game time in an energy-zapping playing position. This led to a couple of cramps and fatigue, and ultimately, he suffered some injuries as the season progressed. At the start of the new season, Arteta suffered a thigh strain and was diagnosed to be out for an eternity, so Arsene Wenger was left with no choice but to go into the market to find a replacement.

The media and fans alike wasted no time in providing Wenger with options—like he never knew who these players were. They started by linking the club heavily with Luiz Gustavo (via Daily Mail), a want-away defensive midfielder that went down the pecking order following the arrival of Javi Martinez. Luiz Gustavo checked all the boxes for the kind of player Arsenal needed but Wenger folded his arms as he joined VFL Wolfsburg.

The media linked Arsenal with young starlet from Real Sociedad, Asier Illarramendi. The youngster had a great tournament in Spain's Under-21 European Championship triumph, and he was instrumental in Real Sociedad’s surge for a fourth placed finish. But for a player so young and inexperienced, he commanded a mammoth price tag and Arsenal backed out before he sealed a big-money move to Real Madrid.

The media didn’t stop and reported that the Gunners had a bid rejected for Bayer Leverkusen’s Lars Bender (via Mirror.) And many fans were optimistic when they heard Arsenal was set to activate Marouane Fellaini’s release clause at Everton (via ESPN). Then, of course, there was also the rejected bid for Yohan Cabaye (via ESPN).

Amidst all the transfer speculation surrounding Arsenal, there was a certain Mathieu Flamini that was training with the lads to keep fit after his five-year stint with Milan came to an end. In his time in Italy, Flamini made 153 appearances, scoring five goals. But he won the Scudetto and Italian Super Cup in 2011, which adds to his FA Cup he won with Arsenal in 2005.

Arsene Wenger had re-signed Sol Campbell and Jens Lehmann as well as securing a loan switch for Thierry Henry, so a few eyebrows were raised as it seemed as if Arsenal was going to sign the prodigal son for free, and guess what—they did!

Some fans voiced their frustrations as Arsene Wenger had secured another “free” signing instead of spending some money but little did they know that this French enforcer had some unfinished business at Arsenal.

Flamini’s arrival mitigated a short-term challenge at the club, as Arsenal was desperately in need of cover in central midfield following the injury suffered by Mikel Arteta. In his second debut as a first half substitute for Jack Wilshere in the North London Derby, Flamini made his presence felt. He has influenced his teammates and has been very vocal, directing his teammates. He has also been willing to put his body on the line for his team.

According to WhoScored, listed below are Mathieu Flamini’s stats this season,

 

Premier League

Champions League

Appearances (subs)

3 (1)

2

Tackles made (per game)

9 (2.3)

6 (3)

Interceptions made (per game)

7 (1.8)

5 (2.5)

Fouls committed (per game)

5 (1.3)

3 (1.5)

Clearances (per game)

10 (2.5)

3 (1.5)

Blocked shots (per game)

3 (0.8)

-

Total Passes (accurate passes)

220 (202)

135 (128)

Pass Completion percentage

91.8%

94.8%

Bookings (Yellow/Red)

(3/0)

-

Now it’s time to compare Mathieu Flamini’s stats (league only) with the rest of the holding midfielders Arsenal were linked with this summer.

 

Flamini

Fellaini

Cabaye

Illarramendi

Gustavo

Bender

Appearances (subs)

3 (1)

1 (2)

2 (2)

3 (1)

4

6

Tackles made (per game)

9 (2.3)

2 (0.7)

9 (2.3)

10 (2.5)

11 (2.8)

16 (2.7)

Interceptions made (per game)

7 (1.8)

1 (0.3)

7 (1.8)

1 (0.3)

6 (1.5)

10 (1.7)

Fouls committed (per game)

5 (1.3)

3 (1)

5 (1.3)

6 (1.5)

10 (2.5)

9 (1.5)

Clearances (per game)

10 (2.5)

3 (1)

3 (0.8)

1 (0.3)

4 (1)

7 (1.2)

Blocked shots (per game)

3 (0.8)

-

-

-

-

1 (0.2)

Total Passes (accurate passes)

220 (202)

131 (119)

126 (100)

158 (137)

163 (144)

212 (172)

Pass Completion percentage

91.8%

90.8%

79.4%

86.7%

88.3%

81.1%

Bookings (Yellow/Red)

(3/0)

-

(2/0)

-

(0/2)

-

It’s worth noting that all the players compared with Flamini here would have cost Arsenal wads of cash.

Many of Flamini’s peers have made more tackles than him but he’s on par with Cabaye and the £27.5m Fellaini is nowhere near him in the tackling department. No player in this list has made more clearances or blocked more shots than Flamini.

His passing stats are hugely impressive as well, as he has a completion percentage of 91.8 percent (more than everyone on this list.)

There may be some issues with his discipline but he’s nowhere near Luiz Gustavo, who has already notched up two straight red cards for Wolfsburg in this early stage of his career with his new team.

As these stats prove, Flamini has been an excellent performer for Arsenal, despite arriving at the club for nothing.

It’s fair to say that some of the best things in life are free.

This article is also featured in Toni Okike's blog, Gooner Daily.

 

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