'I'm like a wine, I improve with age'

Mathieu Flamini believes he has "evolved" as a footballer since he left Arsenal in 2008.

The industrious midfielder swapped the Premier League for Serie A five years ago but is back for a second spell at Emirates Stadium and made his presence felt as a substitute in the north London derby win over Tottenham.

Flamini says his years in Italy helped develop the tactical side of his game but he insists that his most familiar assets - his work ethic and fitness levels - are as strong as ever.

"I had the chance to discover a new championship... based on a lot of tactical aspects"

"My fitness levels are still very good," Flamini told Arsenal Player. "After what [fitness coach] Tony Colbert told me after some speed tests, I am quicker than I was five years ago.

"It was funny because we made a joke that it was like wine, getting better with age. I still feel very fresh.

"I would say I evolved [in Italy]," he went on. "I'm 29 now, I played a lot of games in Italy and I had the chance to discover a new championship like the Italian league, based on a lot of tactical aspects because there is not a lot of space so I think it made my game evolve.

"I think I'm much better tactically because being in Italy for five years you learn a lot of tactical things in training, what you know is your position on the pitch. Afterwards with your age you read the game better so for your position this is important.

"Serie A is much more tactical than the English league. The English league is much quicker and physical and the intensity is very high from the beginning to the end. In Italy there is less space and that's why you don't have as many goals as you do in England.โ€

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