Team spirit reminds me of last time we won FA Cup, says Arsenal midfielder
PUBLISHED: 12:38 17 February 2014 | UPDATED: 12:39 17 February 2014
Mathieu Flamini says he senses the re-emergence of the team ethic that helped Arsenal to FA Cup success during his first spell at the club.
The French midfielder was a member of the Gunners squad that triumphed in the 2005 FA Cup final against Manchester United – the most recent addition to the club’s trophy cabinet.
Sunday’s hard-fought 2-1 victory over Liverpool took Flamini and his team-mates into the last eight of the competition for only the second time since their 2005 success.
And the 29-year-old feels there are clear indications that the current Arsenal side are showing the necessary steel to end that barren run this season.
“I see great commitment, I really see everyone working hard on the pitch and helping each other,” said Flamini, who was back in action following a three-match suspension.
“I think that’s what we had when I was here before and we won the FA Cup. When we had to compete and fight for these games, we did it.
“From the first minute to the last, everyone was working hard – even the players up front, we asked them to defend as well and they did it very well. That’s important for us.
“Liverpool played well, but we really wanted to win the game, especially after the defeat [in the league at Anfield], we owed them.
“It was a big challenge, but we showed good character and I think we deserved the victory.
“It will be another big game [at home to Everton in the next round] and we play at home, so that’s positive.”
Arsene Wenger’s side had to work hard to see off the Merseysiders, although they went in front when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain netted his third goal in three starts.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was in impressive form, setting up Lukas Podolski to make it 2-0 early in the second half before Steven Gerrard reduced the deficit with a penalty.
And, although Oxlade-Chamberlain featured in a wide role on Sunday, Flamini agrees with his manager’s view that the England international is more than capable of filling a central midfield berth in the long term.
“Chambo is a great player,” added Flamini. “When you’re a great player you have the possibility to play every position and wherever he plays he does it perfectly.
“He played on the side, he was brilliant and I’m very happy for him. He scored a goal and he really deserved it and deserves the success he’s having right now.”
Arsenal’s quarter-final draw is their fourth home tie in a row – the first time that has happened in the FA Cup since they lifted the trophy in the 1949-50 campaign.
In that year, the Gunners overcame Sheffield Wednesday, Swansea, Burnley and Leeds before defeating Chelsea in a semi-final replay and then Liverpool 2-0 at Wembley.