Flamini Signing Was Just as Important as Ozil for Arsenal

Aaron BowerFeatured ColumnistOctober 14, 2013

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 06:  Stephane Sessegnon of West Bromwich Albion holds off Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Arsenal at The Hawthorns on October 6, 2013 in West Bromwich, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

With the international break almost coming to a climax, it's time to head back into Premier League action this weekend. And for Arsenal and Mathieu Flamini, things couldn't be much prettier as they sit top of the league.

On transfer deadline day, Arsene Wenger finally delivered the big money signing fans have craved for years, when Mesut Ozil waltzed his way into the Gunners. He's made a remarkable difference to the side going forward, but, perhaps surprisingly to Arsenal fans at the time, Wenger made just as important a signing earlier in the transfer window in Flamini.

Eyebrows were raised when the Frenchman was brought back to the club for a second spell after four years with AC Milan. However, a quick glance at the stats suggests that Flamini is just as important to Arsenal's early success as Ozil.

When the Gunners were humbled 3-1 on the opening day of the season by Aston Villa, the addition of Flamini was the last thing Arsenal fans were thinking they needed to turn their fortunes around.

But he's made a difference.

After missing the first two games of the 2013/14 campaign, Flamini has played five in a row.

According to the guys at Squawka, Flamini's passing accuracy is at a staggering 93 percent. Only Ryo Miyaichi, Nicklas Bendtner and Mikel Arteta have done better; Miyaichi and Bendtner have played once, and Arteta has played 90 minutes on just one occasion, too.

Of the regulars in the Arsenal side, nobody passes a ball with better accuracy than Mathieu Flamini. This is a valuable skill to have in an Arsenal team.

Flamini: king of the passes in the EPL.
Flamini: king of the passes in the EPL.

That stat doesn't even just stand up against his own team-mates but against the rest of the entire division. Of the men who have played as many games as Flamini this season (five), nobody has a better pass accuracy. Incidentally, it's also the same as Xavi's.

Arsenal have craved a defensive midfielder with Flamini's ability since Alex Song departed for Barcelona. They have tried and failed with a number of players, one of whom is shining for Arsenal this year. The impact of Flamini's arrival could not be proved better than by the form of Aaron Ramsey.

Along with Yaya Toure, the Welshman is the top-scoring midfielder in the Premier League, and the willingness of Flamini to sit in and defend has played a large part in the transformation of Ramsey. With Flamini holding tight in midfield, everyone else has more creative expression to play.

Flamini averages as many defensive actions a game as any other Arsenal midfielder (again, according to Squawka), further illustrating his emphasis on the team in that crucial defensive-midfield role.

Yes, Mesut Ozil has transformed Arsenal's attacking fluidity.

Yes, Aaron Ramsey looks like a different player this year than the one who struggled in previous seasons.

And yes, Olivier Giroud has found his scoring boots.

But don't underestimate the impact Mathieu Flamini has had on this remarkable early season form.