Flamini on the FA Cup, squad competition & his contract

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Mathieu Flamini hasn’t played much in the second half of this season but that hasn’t stopped the club throwing him into the media fray ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup final with Aston Villa.

Below is a transcript* of his press conference – held at London Colney on Wednesday – during which the midfielder shared his FA Cup memories, talked of the importance of squad competition, bigged up the quality of this teammates and clarified his contract situation…

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On how the team compares to last year…

The team is more experienced now. We won the FA Cup last year and we know what it takes to win. We need to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes as last year.

On how the players felt about last year’s pressure on Wenger …

There was pressure on everyone, not only the manager, but the players and the whole club. We wanted to please the fans. It was a difficult situation going so many years without a trophy for such a big club but we did well and finally won the FA Cup.

On whether it’ll be easier this year…

It’s never easy to win a final, let me tell you. I had the chance to play a Champions League final [against Barcelona in 2006] and learned at the time that losing it is very difficult. Of course, you don’t compare the FA Cup final with the Champions League but a final is a final; you have to do everything to win it. Aston Villa is a good team and Tim Sherwood will make it very difficult for us.

On the run to the final…

Every team has been difficult. It’s a big cup, every team wants to win it. Anything can happen in the final. It’ll be a tough game for us. We’ll try to be strong defensively and to find the goal that will give us the possibility to win the game.

On the history of the FA Cup resonating in France…

Of course. The FA Cup is a big cup, one of the biggest in Europe. The Premier League is one of the top championships. Of course, everyone is looking forward to it.

On his earliest memory of the FA Cup…

When I won it for the first time! That was a while ago. It’s an amazing memory, not at Wembley but at Cardiff [when Arsenal beat Manchester United in 2005 on penalties]. Of course, it was an amazing moment and a pleasure. For a footballer to have the chance to play in big games like that is a big chance. I will make sure I will enjoy every second.

[Flamini was part of the first team squad but didn’t make the starting XI or the bench]

On what Alexis Sanchez brings to the team…

Alexis is a top football player. He has a lot of quality. He’s very good offensively, he can create anything at any moment. He gives a lot to the team. Defensively he works hard and that’s tough coming from an offensive player.

On a sixth FA Cup triumph being ammunition for Wenger against Mourinho…

I don’t want to comment on anything Mourinho said. We all know what Arsene Wenger did for this club, we all know what he achieved. He’s done an amazing job for the club and for the fans. It’s a big achievement. Hopefully we’ll win for the fans and for him as well.

On the team selection headache facing Wenger this weekend…

It [competition] is part of the game if you want to play at the top teams. There’s a lot of quality and you have to fight for your place. It’s part of the game, you have to accept the competition. I believe it makes you better because we fight every morning in training to prove that you can play in the team. Like I said, it makes you better.

On Theo Walcott’s return…

I’m very pleased for him. Theo is a top man also. He’s a great guy off the pitch, a great character and he gives everything for the team. I was very happy for him to have an opportunity to prove he’s still at his very best.

On Arsenal enduring a nightmare start to the final last year…

We all agree it was a nightmare. Like I said before, we have more experience now and we make sure we’ve learned from our mistakes and not to do it again. We made it very difficult for ourselves last year. For me to win it and be part of it, it would be the third time I’ve won the FA Cup. As an Arsenal player it would be a big honour and I’d be very proud of that. I’ll make sure to enjoy every second of the day.

On whether Saturday could be his last game for the club…

No, no. I have one more year at the club.

On Saturday meaning a lot to him…

I was born to win, I wanted to win since forever in football. I like to play these big games. I wake up every morning and I want to be a winner.

On whether he’s happy at Arsenal…

I played a lot in the first part of the season. Then second part of the season I got injured and then coming back it’s difficult to get in the team. If you look at the stats we nearly won every single game since February. When the team is winning there is not much to say, except working hard and trying to prove every day you can get back in the team. It’s a situation I accept. Competition makes you better, but there’s not much to say when the team is winning every single game. You just have to accept it and it’s part of the game. I’m looking forward.

On fighting for his place…

I’m happy to be part of this club. Now we’re looking forward to win another trophy. That, for me, is the most important. I don’t think the personal situation of every player is important. I think the collective is more important, especially in a situation like that when we’re about to play a final of the FA Cup and to add another trophy to the club.

On Aaron Ramsey’s development…

Aaron has been improving a lot and he’s now very dangerous. He’s more confident now and a top player and he can do it consistently. He’s played many games. he’s strong defensively and offensively. We’re glad to have him in the team.

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*We left out some boring stuff about Aaron Ramsey playing for Wales and his thoughts on Francis Coquelin’s rise to prominence. Full quotes on the latter be found here. 

[Thanks to Tim Stillman for sharing recording of the press conference]

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SubP
SubP

I thought his contract expired this year. Anyway, good stuff.

JB
JB

I pointed this out in a comment around Christmas when the press started saying he was out of contract this summer.. he specifically said when he re-signed that he turned down Milan as they wouldn’t offer him a three year deal and we would.

Dale Cooper
Dale Cooper

Surprising how Flam has another year, everyone and every website claimed this was his last contracted year. Just goes to show how often websites pull shit out of their arses.

Arsene's Apologist
Arsene's Apologist

To be fair, that’s about the best place to pull shit from.

CB
CB

Sounds like he is planning to see out his contract. Won’t play much I think, given Arteta is likely to be there as well as Coq.

Takes up a squad place. Will be interesting to see if Wenger is ruthless, ditches Flamini and brings someone else in. I’m guessing not.

aaron
aaron

Would be silly of us to not try and get rid of him, would much rather have Arteta as the experienced back up with hopefully another younger defensive minded player being bought in

Rozza the samourai
Rozza the samourai

Would be silly not to vote you down.

Luis Boa Muerte
Luis Boa Muerte

Flamini in his current iteration is dreadful, don’t pretend otherwise

aaron
aaron

If you enjoy seeing Flamini, a guy who would struggle to get in most Prem teams, in Arsenal’s team actually getting playing time then ya’ll need your heads looked at

Double98
Double98

Why did no one ask him who should play in goal?

Is that not what FA Cup Finals are all about?

Cliff Bastin
Cliff Bastin

I’d keep him on the bench purely for situations where we’re already leading four or five nil and I want someone to be absolutely obliterated (John terry or rvp come to mind). Spares the coq a suspension

Anonymous Physicist
Anonymous Physicist

It’s a nice thought, but if we want to have specific players for those kinds of situations we’ll have to petition the FA to get much wider benches installed in all stadiums.

Mark
Mark

Always liked Flamini. He can frustrate the life out of you at times but there’s no denying the dudes a warrior on and off the pitch. Wouldn’t surprise me if he ended up a manager down the line.

Dan

I thought when we signed him he was only supposed to be a stop gap signing. How Wenger gave him a three year contract is beyond me. He really needs to go this summer, doesn’t add anything significant to the team and takes a valuable squad place. Keep Arteta for his experience and sign a top midfielder to provide competition to Le Coq but looks like this is unlikely now with Flamini staying for another year.

Rozza the samourai
Rozza the samourai

Why three-year contract ? He gave exactly the performance Coquelin is giving now when Wenger signed him back. All he has to do is to keep fresh and in good physical shape just in case the manager needs him. Remember his last year before he left for Milan ? He gave arguably the highest DM performance in the league. Kept Lassana Diarra who was highly rated at the time on the bench.

Dan

I remember quite vividly after that season, Flamini leaving us on a free transfer so he could get more money at Milan. I don’t blame him for doing that but same time why should we show him loyalty. Either him or Arteta should move on, to make room for a new midfielder. Wenger needs to show more ruthlessness if we’re going to win the big prices again and some players need to be sacrificed for ones who will enable us to compete at the very top level once again.

Naija Gunner
Naija Gunner

A great speach from a great professional. Loving this great club everyday.

George
George

Little bit manageresque from Flamini. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him go into coaching, seems to have a real passion for the game

North Bank Gooner
North Bank Gooner

“I don’t think the personal situation of every player is important.”

Shame a few more premiership players don’t think like this, they all seem to get Mourinhitis, and are self absorbed bellends only worrying about their own trophy count (ahem Cesc)

Love The Flame, good to see there are still players that remember its a team game…..

santori
santori

A much better player than many would deem to give him credit for.

Had Coquelin played first half of season where we were in shambles at the back without proper Cback option, he would have struggled similarly.

Flamini’s passing completion has actually improved this season and his use of the ball is good too.

As mentioned, more than likely (Captain’s curse), Arteta may retire or move on. Wenger will keep Flamini for another season or two as back up with one eye on Bielik.

Also I feel he may add in this area as cover. Both Flamini and Arteta are aging so one should go.

If we can get someone like Kongdogbia who can provide a different capability going forward (Bearing in mind both Jack and Ramsey are injury prone) AND cover DM, we should do it this summer.

Flamini is a capable no nonsense back up to Coquelin with experience. More importantly, he is also quite versatile and will add utility where Arteta for example may struggle covering at fullback.

Alexstratz
Alexstratz

“I don’t want to comment on anything Mourinho said.” If only everyone reacted the same, we’d finally be rid of the little troll. He’d probably kill himself, having lost his only purpose in life.

Howard
Howard

It shows that AW is not interested in winning the league again

Signing Flamini for 3 years? Total waste
Keeping Diaby when its clear he can never play regular football again

Selling Afobe and keeping Sanogo
Extending Arteta’s contract when his legs are gone

Extending Rosicky’s contract when he sits on the bench and will be 35 this year

Wasting Arsenal money on useless Frenchies who are managed by Darren Dean