Arsenal stormed three points clear at the top of the Premiership table with their second 3-0 win in a row over Newcastle at Emirates Stadium.
While Arsene Wenger’s side struggled to hit their best form in the first half they took the lead just before the break when Emmanuel Adebayor stooped low to head home his 19th goal of the season after a marvellous run and cross from Mathieu Flamini. The French midfielder then went from provider to goalscorer on 73 minutes when he crashed home a sensational second from no less than 25 yards out. And the game was put beyond doubt just seven minutes later when Cesc Fabregas grabbed a much-overdue goal, neatly finishing after good work from substitute Nicklas Bendtner.
It was a dominant display by Arsenal and despite having just four shots on target, a three-goal margin flattered Kevin Keegan’s side’s average performance. There were good individual performances throughout the Arsenal side – Gael Clichy and Philippe Senderos deserve special mentions – but there was one man who stood head-and-shoulders above the rest.
Mathieu Flamini was absolutely outstanding and gave the closest thing I’ve seen to a perfect performance by an Arsenal player this season. All the normal work was there – he was snapping into challenges and covering for the defence in his usual way – but he seemed to find extra energy against Newcastle and was seen bombing forward even more freely than his midfield partner.
His assist for the first goal was brilliant; collecting the ball at pace on the halfway line and setting up Adebayor with the type of cross that David Beckham would have been proud of. After the first goal, as Arseblogger pointed out, Flamini was back to his Gattuso-like best, turning defence into attack on numerous occasions with a combination of great anticipation and genuine tenacity. He was having a game to remember and put the icing on the cake with a goal of his home, hitting an absolute belter late in the second-half.
It was the type of goal that only goes in when a player is doing well (or his name is Kaka) and it shows just how high his confidence is at the moment that he even chose to have a go at goal. After the game Wenger rightly praised the Frenchman for his performance, specifically indicating the clear improvements he has made in his game since last season.
“His work-rate is tremendous, the timings of his runs are good and his composure with the final ball is great. That was not the case in the years before. On top of that he scored a great goal tonight.”
If Arsenal gave it’s Player of the Season award tomorrow I don’t think anyone would argue with Flamini getting the award. He has been a model of consistency while the other stars at the club – Fabregas, Hleb, Adebayor etc – have gone in and out of form at various times. He always seems to know when to push forward and rarely leaves his teammates short at the back.
While Gilberto Silva had a good season in the same position last time around Flamini has added an energy to the position that has allowed the entire team to step up. He is the main reason why Arsenal sit at the top of the table and I can confidently say that without him the club would not be in the position that they are in.
Not a bad day at the office then. Three goals, three points and the pressure is back on Manchester United as they take on Portsmouth later today. Hopefully Diarra can do us a favour or two.
What do you think?
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