Arsenal FC manager Arsene Wenger reflected on his side’s 2-1 victory over arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur, praising the unlikely goalscorer Mathieu Flamini for his fighting spirit while also expressing his happiness at his team’s resilience.
Arsenal FC beat Tottenham Hotspur in the third round of the Capital One Cup at White Hart Lane courtesy of a superb brace by Frenchman Mathieu Flamini. The Gunners took the lead when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s shot from outside the box was parried away by Michel Vorm in the path of Mathieu Flamini, who thumped it into the roof of the net.
Spurs pulled one back in the second half when Nacer Chadli’s cross from the left flank was bundled into the Arsenal FC net by defender Calum Chambers. However, Flamini scored a stunner in the 78th minute to help Arsenal FC secure an essential win after two successive defeats. The Frenchman volleyed into the bottom corner from outside of the box, when he got on the end of a looped clearance.
He is a fighter and he is a winner as well – Wenger on Flamini
Arsene Wenger expressed his surprise at Flamini’s brace, but insisted that it was the Frenchman who wanted to stay at the club despite being told that he would not be a regular starter. He also explained his decision to field two defensive midfielders in the midfield in the North London derby.
Speaking in his post match press conference, as quoted by the club’s official website, Wenger said:
“You do not expect Mathieu Flamini to score two goals. He was certainly frustrated for a long time and he went for it. He scored two good goals, especially the second one. I think on the second one he made an early decision to go for it and just focused and finished with a great goal.
“First of all I wanted to rotate the team a little bit and he had worked very [hard] recently. I saw in training he was focused and had come back to a good level and I also thought I wanted to strengthen a bit the midfield with Arteta who had not played in a long time. I wanted a second player to strengthen a bit defensively and that meant Flamini and Arteta together gave some defensive guarantees.
“He is a fighter and he is a winner as well. I told him at the start of the season it might be difficult for him to be a starter but he decided to stay and he did fight.
“I fought to keep him but he is at an age where you always consider what it is important at that age, which is to keep focused and stay in the team. If they do not manage to do that it is better you let them go, but he wanted to stay.”
The 65-year-old also praised his side’s resilience to not succumb to the pressure after conceding the equalizer, when Chambers put the ball in his own net.
“That was the most pleasing [aspect]. Suddenly when it was 1-1 you could expect Tottenham to find a second goal but suddenly it looked like it was us who were more likely to score a second goal.”
Arsenal FC next travel to the King Power Stadium to take on Leicester City in the Premier League, while they will face Sheffield Wednesday in the fourth round of the Capital One Cup. Wednesday beat struggling Premier League side Newcastle United to book a meeting against the Gunners.