Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta has claimed that his midfield partnership with Mathieu Flamini gave Alexis Sanchez the freedom to thrive at Sunderland. The Chile international was a constant threat in the No 10 role, and scored two goals to cap off a fine individual performance at the Stadium of Light, which guaranteed the three points for Arsenal.
And Arteta feels that his performance alongside Flamini allowed the Gunners to keep a clean sheet and this stability at the back translated into goals.
I felt really comfortable with [Flamini]. Last year we played some important games together and I think we understand each other well.
We wanted to give a bit more freedom to Alexis, playing a bit behind Danny [Welbeck], more like a 4-4-2, which we haven’t played for a while. It worked – I think Alexis did very well today so we’re happy for him.
His confidence is high. Physically he’s better, you can see that by the runs he was making in the 93rd minute, [when he] chased the keeper and kept going. That’s all about him – he wants to keep going, he wants to improve and he’s doing very well.
We need to be consistent now and get the points because you know how difficult it is. You look at Manchester City dropping points, you look at Liverpool dropping points and that tells you how difficult this league has become.
The league might be tough, but Arsenal’s leaky defence has not done them any favours, often forcing them to chase the game. If Arteta is right about his and Flamini’s partnership, then maybe we have found a temporary solution to that. However, neither of them has pace and they will be ripped apart by any team featuring speedy forwards. Also, with Ramsey and Wilshere available to the manager, it is tough to imagine that Arteta and Flamini will get picked together on a regular basis.