Capital One Cup: Surprise source Flamini wins North London derby
Arsenal had lost on three of their last four visits to North London neighbours Tottenham, but a brace from the unlikeliest of sources in Mathieu Flamini at White Hart Lane sent the Gunners through to round four of the Capital One Cup, which they are now 11/2 with Coral (from 8/1) to win..
The hosts were much-improved after falling behind to French anchorman Flamini’s gamble from midfield to snap up the rebound when Michel Vorm parried an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain effort, with Calum Chambers forced into an own-goal early in the second half to restore parity.
In even more shocking fashion than his opener, however, Flamini showed sublime technique to volley in a winner that ended Arsenal’s run of successive defeats and sent Spurs crashing out of this competition.
Both Arsene Wenger and Tottenham counterpart Mauricio Pochettino rang the changes amid busy schedules in the Premier League and Europe, with just four players surviving across the weekend’s starting XIs.
Aaron Ramsey alone kept his place for the Gunners, with Joel Campbell given a rare run-out in attack and giant centre half Per Mertesacker back after illness. Joining their visitors, Spurs switched their entire rearguard and goalie, with just Harry Kane, Eric Dier and Nacer Chadli retained.
Following an underwhelming first quarter where quality suffered from both coaches making so many changes, Arsenal went ahead on 25 minutes. Vorm’s poor parry into the path of Flamini from Oxlade-Chamberlain gifted the Frenchman the chance to fire high into the net.
Belated signs that this was a derby followed with feisty challengers seeing Gunners captain Mikel Arteta and goalscorer Flamini both booked. Danny Rose led the Tottenham response, with menacing raids up from left back, but fired wide at the near post after cutting inside.
Spurs striker Kane, who is without a club goal this season, spurned other openings, being rightly flagged offside when David Ospina saved superbly from Christian Eriksen.
Pressure from Pochettino’s team paid off 10 minutes into the second half, however, when Chambers diverted a Chadli centre past his own keeper. Kane then saw a bicycle kick from Andros Townsend’s deep corner cleared off the line by Kieran Gibbs with both Ospina and Arteta beaten.
With 12 minutes left, however, 30-something midfielder Flamini struck a sweet volley, showing a previously unseen technical proficiency, past Vorm to win the tie for Arsenal. With compatriot Francis Coquelin injured, he has given Wenger plenty of reasons to pick him as cover.