Mathieu Flamini proved an unlikely hero with two goals as Arsenal knocked bitter north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur out of English football’s League Cup with a 2-1 third-round victory.
Arsenal winger, Joel Campbell, headed over the bar from a Kieran Gibbs cross, before Mathieu Flamini opened the scoring on 26 minutes after pouncing on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s parried shot.
The 31-year-old, so often the butt of Arsenal fans’ criticism in the past, had already celebrated his return by putting Wenger’s side ahead in the first half before a Calum Chambers own goal after the break drew Tottenham level.
“You want to get good results and build up momentum so hopefully we can take what we learnt into the next game, ” said Chambers, who had deflected in an own goal for Spurs’ equaliser.
Defensively he worked hard too, making seven tackles – the most of any Tottenham player, and twice as many as the rest of the back four combined.
” He is a fighter and a victor as well”.
Now in his second spell for the club, spread over 11 years, Flamini is the only member of the squad to have played at Highbury, to have shared a dressing room with Patrick Vieira.
“It was a very intense game, I think we responded very well, physically and mentally”, Wenger told Sky Sports after the match.
“At times we lacked defensive stability but that is normal at Leicester. It was good for me to get some game time [because] I still lack a bit of fitness”.
Arsenal were dispatched 2-1 by Dinamo Zagreb on matchday one, while Olympiacos also tasted defeat in losing 3-0 at home to 2013 champions Bayern Munich – their only loss of 2015-16 so far.
Dean failed to send off Chelsea striker Diego Costa for whacking Laurent Koscielny in the face and then compounded the error by dismissing Arsenal’s Gabriel moments later for kicking Costa. “We need to show respect to the players”.
However, Wenger took little solace from the FA’s decisions.
“It was a missed opportunity because we dominated the second half and had the better chances”, he said.