Flamini sparks Arsenal as Tottenham continue to pay for slack transfer policy
Frenchman the unlikely hero as Tottenham continue to pay for chairman's transfer strategy
(Calum Chambers 56-og)
(Mathieu Flamini 26, 78)
REPORTING FROM THE UK
Mathieu Flamini is not used to opportunity knocking. It rarely has across his Arsenal career.
A relatively inconsequential figure during his first spell at the Emirates Stadium, the 31-year-old has become increasingly marginalised at the second time of asking.
Only circumstance prevented him from slinking out the exit door earlier this month without so much as a fanfare. That is still likely to remain the case next summer, when his current contract is set to expire.
But, as the Gunners mourned the absence of another French midfielder, the forgotten man emerged from the shadows.
Flamini is not the favourite of the Arsenal faithful, the injured Francis Coquelin is, but it was the elder statesman who became the unlikely toast of north London's red half yesterday morning (Singapore time).
At White Hart Lane, he was a man on a mission, turning back the clock with the type of performance that initially endeared him to Arsene Wenger all those years ago, inspiring the Gunners to a 2-1 win over their hated rivals Tottenham in the League Cup.
Tales of training in isolation at Arsenal's London Colney base appeared a distant memory, as did his advancing age, when he pounced to fire an instinctive and unprecedented brace.
If this season proves to be Flamini's last hurrah at Arsenal, the League Cup could be the perfect stage for his legacy rather than serving strictly as a footnote in folklore.
For Wenger, previously typecast as incapable of tangible accomplishment beyond Champions League qualification, the competition represents an attainable third trophy in as many seasons.
That four of Arsenal's previous seven meetings with Tottenham resulted in them reaching the final should serve as an omen and motivation to take the competition seriously.
Before Flamini's once in a lifetime volley, the balance of the clash was teetering increasingly in favour of Spurs.
On the face of it, the hosts' exit at the first hurdle suggests little had been learned from last season's League Cup final defeat.
Mauricio Pochettino forced his players to watch Chelsea's jubilant side take to the Wembley steps and lift the trophy in its entirety, in the hope it would serve as priceless motivation.
But the Argentine could be forgiven for wondering if Lady Luck was now beginning to elude White Hart Lane.
Entering the Cup clash, Spurs were buoyed by two successive wins in the English Premier League, but fortune favoured them as both Crystal Palace and Sunderland wasted chances before eventually succumbing to second-half strikes.
Against their fiercest foes, luck finally appeared to be conspiring against Spurs.
Pochettino resisted the temptation to rest Harry Kane but it didn't pay off, although not for the want of trying.
The Englishman's goal drought now stands at 626 competitive minutes, but he will doubtless be at a loss as to what more he can do physically do to end his barren run.
Daniel Levy's timing in the transfer market, often waiting until deadline day to secure the best possible deal, invariably dictates a staggered start to Tottenham's season and the chairman must share responsibility for the current run.
The deadline day drama over Saido Berahino's failed move to White Hart Lane has so far had greater implications for home-grown hero Kane than it has done for the West Bromwich Albion malcontent.
Even with Erik Lamela and the talismanic Son Heung Min supplementing the shortfall, Kane's isolation in attack threatens to condemn the 22-year-old to the dubious status of a one-season wonder.
Longevity has often been at the forefront of Pochettino's planning but arresting Tottenham's short-term problems must now occupy his mind.
He is a fighter, he is a winner as well. I told him at the start of the season it might be difficult to be a starter, but he decided to stay and he has been fighting.
— Arsene Wenger on Mathieu Flamini
I’ve heard many things in the press and i am still here. it is never easy when you don’t play every game. I had a point to prove.
— Mathieu Famini
BY THE NUMBERS
2 - Arsenal have won the League Cup only twice, beating Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 in 1993 and Liverpool by the same score in 1987. The best side in the competition is easily Liverpool, who have won it eight times, ahead of Aston Villa and Chelsea (five each).
Rowdy fans could spoil Flamini show
Manager Arsene Wenger hopes Arsenal can now move on from a testing week after beating Tottenham 2-1 in the League Cup, but the club could yet face an investigation into the behaviour of their fans at White Hart Lane.
Midfielder Mathieu Flamini netted a brace, the second a superb 20-metre volley, to secure bragging rights from the north London Derby yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Following the final whistle, a section of the travelling supporters in the corner of the South Stand were seen ripping down hoardings of Tottenham club slogans, with police and stewards forced to intervene. There were also reports of clashes between rival fans outside the stadium.
Arsenal are aware of the incident and say they will work with Tottenham and the authorities in an attempt to identify those individuals responsible for the disturbances, which could use footage from broadcasters as well as any club surveillance videos.
On the pitch, Wenger felt his side, which included several changes from Saturday's 2-0 English Premier League defeat by Chelsea, had produced the required response.
''Overall we responded well mentally and physically to the challenge we faced, and it was a convincing performance,'' Wenger said.
He also saluted fellow French compatriot's Flamini's decision to fight for his place at the Emirates.
The 31-year-old, who scored his first goals since March in his first appearance of the season, had came close to leaving Arsenal in the last transfer window.
Wenger said: "You do not expect Mathieu Flamini to score two goals, but he was certainly frustrated for a long time, and he went for it. He scored two good goals," Wenger said.
"He had worked very hard recently. He was focused and I wanted him to strengthen our defensive midfield." - Wire Services.
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