Flamini's Absence Is A Huge Bonus
Mathieu Flamini is out of Sunday's United v Arsenal game with injury.
The midfielder had to be taken off in the first half at Anfield as Arsenal crashed out of the Champions League in dramatic fahion. He is expected to miss three weeks, starting with Sunday's crunch fixture.
Though I did not rate the Frenchman before this season, I must admit that his scintillating form was the main factor behind Arsenal's revival this season. As he began to tire, Fabregas and Hleb both began to fade - and it's no coincidence.
Gilberto Silva has been a huge player for Arsenal in the last few years but this season every single Arsenal fan I ever spoke to agreed that he only hindered the team. Witness Fabregas's contribution at Old Trafford in the FA Cup: he did not have Flamini beside him but the totally ineffectual Gilberto. Result: he was overpowered and outplayed by Darren Fletcher. Darren Fletcher.
Arsenal were a different team in the second half, after Flamini's substitution. They passed Liverpool off the park in the first 45 minutes then got battered in the second - regardless of the dubious penalty, they lost the plot big time without Flamini.
I do not say that victory is certain now but coming to Old Trafford without Bacary Sagna and Mathieu Flamini after a disappointing Champions League exit is possibly the very worst thing that could happen to them. Bring them on!