Ex-Arsenal star hails French midfielder

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Arsenal legend Ray Parlour has praised Mathieu Flamini for his role in Arsenal’s great start to the season.

The defensive midfielder rejoined the Gunners this summer on a free transfer having left the club in 2008 to join Serie A side AC Milan.

French midfielder Flamini has added some much needed steel to the Gunners midfield, complementing another Arsenal summer signing Mesut Ozil.

The former Marseille player also appears to have added his leadership qualities to the squad, who have made a fantastic start to the Premier League season.

And Parlour - who himself often acted as a box to box midfielder - knows the importance of a disciplined midfield anchor.

“Flamini has been very important,” said Parlour on “At times over the last few seasons when Arsenal have broke forward they look great but when they lose the ball they have been very open in midfield. Good teams will exploit that.

“He’s always in those areas where the ball breaks loose and is always trying to win the ball back. He then moves it quickly to the likes of Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil who can really do something with the ball.”

Parlour also believes Arsenal’s centre-back pairing of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have benefitted from the return of the Frenchman, offering better protection directly in-front of the back four.

“He’s a very important player to have in there because you can see [Per] Mertesacker and [Laurent] Koscielny really enjoying their football because they have got Flamini in front of them," Flamini added.

“He’s doing aa great job shielding them because at times they do look a bit open when they play all the attacking players they have got.”

Since the departure of the likes of Parlour, Patrick Vieira and Sol Campbell, Arsenal have been accused of a lack of leadership, but the former Middlesbrough man - who won 10 England caps - believes Flamini possesses the needed qualities.

“What I like about him is that he’s been bossing a few players about and you need players like that,” he said.

“We had Patrick Vieira doing it when I played and I did it myself, telling other players to get back in position before you can have a rest.

“I think Flamini has been really good on that side of the game which is a massive thing for the club because he’s experienced and he’s been there and done it. I think the players have really responded to him by improving their positioning.”

Having not been selected to represent France, Flamini will be waiting for Arsenal’s next fixture as they take on Norwich at the Emirates Stadium.

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