Fired up Flamini sinks Spurs as Arsenal triumph in cup derby
French midfielder scores the first double of his career to give under-pressure Wenger some breathing space
Tottenham 1 Arsenal 2
The first brace of Mathieu Flamini's career gave Arsenal victory over their north London rivals in the third round of the Capital One Cup. The veteran midfielder, who was linked with a move away from the Emirates in the summer, scored in each half to give the Gunners a much-needed win.
Sandwiched between Flamini's double was an own goal from Calum Chambers but that blunder proved inconsequential as the visitors progressed into the fourth round, where they face a trip to Sheffield Wednesday.
"I'm happy for the team and personally," Flamini said later. "I've heard many things in the press and I am still here. I don't have any problems with anyone at the club."
Flamini, who was making his first appearance of the season, admitted he ran out at White Hart Lane with "a point to prove", and prove it he did. His first goal came on 26 minutes when he fired home the rebound after Spurs keeper Michel Vorm could only parry Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's shot into his path.
Spurs, for whom Harry Kane once again failed to score, levelled on 56 minutes when Chambers put Nacer Chadli's cross into his own net, but the last word went to Flamini, whose 20 yard volley won Arsenal the tie.
The 31-year-old later dedicated his brace to the Arsenal fans, telling the club's website: "The two goals were for them. They've always supported me, they've all been behind me and they've played a big role in my career."
Flamini also lauded his teammates, and their resilience to bounce back after consecutive defeats in the Champions League (to Dinamo Zagreb) and Premier League (against Chelsea). "Today I want to congratulate the guys because they had a great game, a great performance and they showed a lot of solidarity on the pitch,” said Flamini. "I think that's important, especially after two defeats. Today we started with a new dynamic."
The victory also relieves some of the pressure on Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal manager paid tribute to Flamini and the rest of the side. "He is a fighter, Mathieu, and a winner as well," he said. "I told him at the start of the season it might be difficult for him to be a starter, but he decided to stay and fight.
"Overall we responded well mentally and physically to the challenge we faced and it was a convincing performance."
In other Capital One Cup results, Chelsea beat Walsall 4-1 to set up a fourth round clash at Stoke, while Wayne Rooney got his first domestic goal of the season for Manchester United as they cruised past Ipswich 3-0. Anthony Martial was on the scoresheet again for the Red Devils, who host Middlesbrough in the next round.
Liverpool are also through, though they needed a penalty shootout to see off League Two side Carlisle and set up a fourth round clash against Bournemouth.