The 23-year-old was all set to leave Emirates Stadium in the summer after struggling to break into the team. But this term he has been superb, breaking down opposition attacks and providing the defensive platform upon which others can perform. Last season's fixture list tells us Arsenal dropped some expensive points against tough-tackling teams away from home. Flamini is Wenger's insurance policy against that and he showed it at the weekend with a committed physical performance as the visitors successfully protected their 1-0 lead at West Ham.
"Mathieu is a winner," said Wenger afterwards. "He has improved in football terms; his vision is better, his presence is better and overall he is doing very well at the moment.
"When he first told me he wanted to leave, of course I couldn't do anything against that because he had the right to do it. After, when he changed his mind, I said 'ok, you fight like everybody else for your job and for your position'. He is doing that well because at a big club you must be backs-to-the wall and yet capable to respond.
"[Over the summer] he realised he was maybe at a place where he will get a chance if he is doing well. He is growing now. He has a little bossy attitude in midfield. He's an organiser and a fighter and I think in our team it is needed."
It certainly was on Saturday at West Ham. Arsenal grabbed an early lead through Robin van Persie but had to roll their sleeves up for the remaining 77 minutes as the home side sought the equaliser.
"It was satisfying because Tottenham was one step forward and this was our bogey team," said Wenger. " It was a derby as well and you know you face a physical game.
"It was another test and overall we passed the test very
well. We never panicked; we didn't give many chances away. You
cannot say it was a lucky win. I think it was deserved."
It was also a physical victory in which Arsenal gave as good as they got.
"We couldn't always face that," admitted Wenger. "Overall we did not forget to play because before when we were less experienced. But when the teams played like that against us we forgot to put them under pressure with our game and we did that much better in the second half on Saturday."