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Flamini key for Arsenal - Neville

Friday 4th October 2013 10:35

Gary Neville believes Mathieu Flamini and Olivier Giroud are just as important to Arsenal's chances this season as Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil.

Arsenal go in to Super Sunday's match against West Brom top of the Premier League table and looking to break a club record of eight successive away league wins.

Much of the credit for their fine start has gone to summer signing Ozil and Ramsey, who has already scored eight goals, but Neville believes Flamini and Giroud are proving equally as crucial for the Gunners.

He told Sky Sports: "I've always thought Arsenal had character, particularly over the last few years coming back from what looked like difficult positions and qualifying for the Champions League.

"This season they have Mathieu Flamini and probably the strongest back four they've had for a while. I think when you dig beneath Arsenal's squad and you lose a couple of those players it gets a lot weaker. Those five (Flamini and the back four) are the key players to keep fit over the next few weeks.

"I think the two centre-backs staying fit, the two full-backs, Flamini and Giroud staying fit are as important as what you would call the 'stars' of the team - your Jack Wilshere's, Ozil's and Ramsey's, because I always think Arsenal have got a lot of players they can replace them with - Tomas Rosicky can come back in, Theo Walcott isn't fit at the moment and will come back. I think it would be easier than replacing Giroud at the moment.

"They obviously tried to get Luis Suarez in the transfer window and it didn't happen and I would think Arsene Wenger would be nervous about losing Giroud. I still think that those players that are not as fashionable are the ones that need to stay fit at this moment in time to continue the run of form they are in."

Despite hailing two rather more unsung stars of the Arsenal team, Neville did reserve some praise for the in-form Ramsey, describing him as the best player in the Premier League so far this season.

"He's been absolutely brilliant - again, you have to talk about a response of character," Neville added.

"Manchester United wanted to sign him a few years back and at the time it was between Arsenal and Manchester United - he chose to go to Arsenal, but he was a player that was liked at Old Trafford as well.

"That injury set him back though and affected his confidence, but now it shows what belief Arsene Wenger had in him and what belief Aaron Ramsey had in Wenger; it shows what stability can provide and now he's thriving.

"It's a good story for everyone in football - sticking with young players, believing in them when times are tough because you'll get there in the end. Ramsey has been the outstanding player in the Premier League this season."

Neville also predicted there is better to come from Ozil, who is already the Premier League's leading assist maker and scored his first goal for Arsenal in the midweek win over Napoli in the Champions League.

"He's been good and I think we'll see more from him but the best is yet to come," Neville said.

"I think he's a fantastic player and the best player to sign to the Premier League in summer and there was a lot of money being spent - he's a genuine world-class player.

"At moment in the Premier League he's been slightly overshadowed by Ramsey and Olivier Giroud who are obviously having a really good run of form. He's bedding in to a good period for Arsenal who are playing well. When we see the best of him it's going to be something special."



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