Arsenal face Sunderland in the Premier League at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
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The signing of Mesut Ozil may have meant Mathieu Flamini's arrival slipped under the radar, but his performance against Tottenham suggests he will rarely go unnoticed this season.
The 29-year-old claims that he is "like wine, getting better with age" and all the evidence seems to back this up so far. Flamini was an highly-energetic presence throughout his first spell at the Club, and he picked up from where he left off in the north London derby.
What was particularly noticeable was the leadership he offered the side, constantly shouting instructions and cajoling his team-mates - all while offering a defensive shield in front of the back four. As our heatmap above shows (Fig 2), he stationed himself deep in midfield and remained hugely disciplined in his positioning, rarely leaving his station as he protected the defence.
Flamini won two tackles (green triangles), one in each half, one defensive block (yellow triangle), one interception (blue), two clearances (yellow) and one recovery (orange) in an all-action display. Arsene Wenger summed up his compatriot's performance perfectly, saying: "I said it was a no-brainer [to sign him], I am just sorry that he did not cost £25 million! Overall his performance was exceptional. He hasn't played since May but his performance was very convincing."
He may not be a big-money signing, but Flamini could prove one of the shewdest additions to this Arsenal squad in quite some time.
Theo Walcott should be one of the main beneficiaries of Ozil's arrival at Arsenal. The German's ability to drift into dangerous positions and set free his forwards should make Walcott an even bigger threat, allowing him to make those well-timed runs in behind the defence to devastating effect.
The England international will fancy his chances of making an impact on Saturday, where he is likely to be up against makeshift left-back Jack Colback. Nominally a midfielder, the 23-year-old has been pushed further back this season under Paolo Di Canio and will have his hands full trying to contain the Arsenal flyer.
Walcott has won 51.6 per cent of his duels this season, compared to Colback's 37.5 per cent, and has a superior passing accuracy rate too. He is yet to score this term, but five of his seven shots on goal in the Premier League have been on target, while he has created eight chances in three games and has one assist.
Having scored 21 times last season, he is due a goal and - up against a player getting used to a new position - will hope to get off the mark at the Stadium of Light.
SUNDERLAND v ARSENAL - MATCH FACTS
- Sunderland have won just eight points from their last 17 Premier League games against the Gunners
- Olivier Giroud has scored in three successive league appearances, but has not scored any of his 14 Premier League goals outside of London
- Arsenal have scored in eight successive games in the competition; the longest-such current run in the Premier League
- Mesut Ozil has registered 72 goal assists in the last five seasons - more than any other player across Europe's top five leagues
- The last six Premier League matches at the Stadium of Light have produced just nine goals
- Sunderland have won just one of their last nine home games against Arsenal in the Premier League (D3 L5)
- No-one has created more chances than Santi Cazorla (10) in the Premier League this season
- Only Fulham (21) have allowed their opponents more shots on target this season than Arsenal (17)
- Arsenal have already conceded two goals in the final 15 minutes of Premier League games this season; as many as they conceded in this period in the whole of 2012/13
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