Public Flamini Number One

Tottenham 1-2 Arsenal

Sometimes, when a player shows some serious tekkers all you want to do is put the goal on loop, sit back and marvel. When that player is Mathieu ‘Nigel’ Flamini, the eyes bulge that extra bit out of their sockets.

Not once, but twice – our arm-waving, erstwhile ersatz left-back stole the show on a night when we needed someone to rise above the clamour. Normally, he’s the one ploughing into the clamour, arms and legs akimbo, so the whole world seems to have gone a bit nuts.

He deserves it though. I’ve always liked him. When he returned two years ago, he added some energy and bite to a midfield that was too timid at times. He doesn’t always get it right, and he’s no longer first choice, but you can’t argue he wasn’t man of the match last night.

It was a night for Flamini puns, which I particularly enjoyed (and got stuck into myself), though after he had scored his second, when he was on a ‘mat-trick’, it did amuse me when it was suggested that the perfect mat-trick was ‘left foot, right foot, red card.’

He certainly felt like he had a point to prove, and said as much in the post-match interview. I’d not cross him on a dark night after a glass of Pastis, if I’m honest.

The upshot of his renaissance – the phoenix from the Flams, if you will – is that we got one over the old enemy, and that’s pretty satisfying too.

I mentioned yesterday that it might be a night for Gibbs and Debuchy, and so it proved, though only the former really shone. Debuchy must have been watching sad films with Giroud.

Not the most fluid performance, but these events never are. We stopped the two-game rot with a goal worthy of winning any game, beat Spurs, and that’s good enough for me.

Props to you, Nigel.

After the game, Wenger couldn’t have been more effusive:

“We’re only making plans for Nigel,”

He said with a beaming smile.

“We only want what’s best for him.”

Wenger always was the altruist. Fair play.

“We’re only making plans for Nigel,”

He reiterated – not sure why, but he’s good like that.

“Nigel just needs that helping hand.”

That would have been enough, you’d have thought, but Wenger by now had the bit between his teeth:

“And if young Nigel says he’s happy, he must be happy, he must be happy, he must be happy in his work.”

Off Wenger went into the night, muttering something about a future in British Steel, and that was that.

Giroud, Giroud, Giroud is on fire

Arsenal 1-0 Tottenham

Doffed chapeaus all round – to Giroud, for an imposing performance in which he scored a deft little number (“good touch for a big man”), to Mertesacker for his robotic leg, to all-action Flamini for coming on, rustier than a shipwreck, and getting stuck in from the off. To Ramsey for another gut-busting performance, to Wilshere for not being injured, just a bit squiffy, and to everyone else really, because we beat our old pals deservedly and it felt as good as it always does.

Incidentally, I did like fellow seat-dweller Shedman’s take on Flamini’s return. “He’s a proper grown-up”.

Quite a strange game in some respects, with Arsenal ceding a fair bit of possession to Spurs, especially in the second half, but still having by far the better chances. Walcott had a couple of good opportunities, Ramsey skied one, Cazorla could have got in on the act and Monreal almost got to a rebound. The atmosphere was crackling and the team spirit clear for all to see, with some of the players dispensing of their shirts into the crowd. There were fist pumps.

Yes, it was amusing in a perverse way that £100m of signings lost to £0, but theirs has been an approach to the transfer market that many of us wish we had at least in part emulated (though we don’t need seven – maybe two or three), and there’s not a man jack who isn’t hoping against all hope that we splash at least a few thousand of our multimillions today. Because let’s be honest, when a few injuries hit, as they have and do, a bench containing two full-backs plus Zelalem, Sanogo and Gnabry is not really a long-term solution (much as I want them all to get their chance). Our first XI cannot do it all. We ended the game with all four full-backs playing.

It’s a big boost to head into the interlull (Yes! There’s another!) with a win, and to dispense some of the storm clouds, but as we all know what happens today – somewhat ludicrously – could also have a big effect both on the pitch this season, but also off it too.

Will we sign anyone? Anyone big? Well guess what, I don’t want to jinx it so I’m not even going to mention one of the big names we’ve been linked with. Because that jinxes it, duh.

I will however update this page when the tide of world-class footballers starts to flood into Highbury House. If I start taking on water, I’ll send out a mayday.

Come on you reds. Come on you CEO. Come on you rip-roaring legal department.

With respect to Sanogo

I’ve been away, loafing in Ionian sunshine, studying things from afar, so much as ‘things’ can reasonably be called ‘things’.

So for real action, the Fenerbahce game was my season opener, and it was as good a spectacle as any game in which you’ve got a three goal lead can be. Ramsey – excellent, Cazorla – peerless. We sprung well from the back, the crowd was munificent in its support (bar the thousands of empty seats, but it was maybe a hard sell given the outcome was as good as decided), and here we are once again dining at the top table with the champs, so it’s all good. Since the Villa mess, we’ve looked positive and dangerous.

Well, it’s not all good. I lie. Poldi thundered off up the left wing and pulled up clutching his hamstring. We were told he’d be out for a Diaby – three weeks going on ten – and so it proved. He now joins Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Vermaelen and Mr Three Weeks himself cluttering up Colin Lewin’s office.

It makes the next few days both ‘crucial’ and ‘interesting’, which may be be better than the ‘baffling’ and ‘maddening’ that have preceded them, or may not, depending on what happens. I don’t know anyone who can make any sense of this summer’s transfer vacuum, so I won’t pretend to try to make sense of what might happen between now and Monday night either. Whatever happens it will be hard to consider it as anything other than a trolley dash. But we shall see, eh.

And with respect to Sanogo, it was good to see him come off the sub’s bench. Tall lad, a bit nervous and it looked it. Having the likes of him, Ryo and Gnabry as benchers is as risky as it gets, frankly. As is having Sagna as centre-back and having Gibbs/Monreal as forward options.

Nigel Flamini on a free? I loved his application when he was with us before. Just the energy we need, if he’s still anything like as good as he was (and there are some who worry his injuries have diminished him). And huge experience. And free – which is obviously good for a club operating on a £70m shoestring.

Work it out for yourself – I’ve given up trying.
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Pop over to the Arsenal America podcast, why dontcha. I was on it, along with Gingers4Limpar and James Olley from the Standard. Did we make sense of the world? Did we chuff. Cheers for having me on, Chris.

Another week of transfer fluff

Here we are again, another week on, and the transfer market has hardly broken its moorings as yet. Yes, we’ve seen Man Utd buy two players, Liverpool one, but really, you’re left with the suspicion that there’s a lot more to come.

We’ve got the whole of July before the real pre-season stuff begins, and another month after that for transfers to be done, so clearly, these really are the early stages of squad rebuilding.

That Milan would consider giving us Flamini back to smooth a deal for Adebayor, or that any deal for Melo would be contingent on us giving them Eboue in return is testament to the state of the tabloids at the moment. Bottom line: If it’s too good to be true, then it’s not true.

Since I last passed comment, Arsenal have launched yet another strip – this one white and grey in homage to – erm – post-war austerity?

In homage, of course, to the need to make money. Now, if you feel strongly about these things, try Fork Handles’ shirt boycott. I must confess – and it’s been said before – that I don’t mind the blue shirt. I finally saw someone wearing one today when I took one of the miniature RotorGoats for a spin in the park, and it didn’t melt my eyes. I understand that it’s not Arsenal colours and all that but the bottom line is, I suspect, that for all its tradition, yellow shirts do not sell well and more neutral colours do. We all wear blue and white in day-to-day life, but unless we are stuck in a 1985 timewarp, we tend not to wear yellow shirts. So our new away shirts are what they are in order to sell as many as possible.

Since Arsenal don’t give a fig how many shirts we now have, perhaps we should now bring out a fourth shirt – in deference to the position in the league we have made our own?