Mathieu Flamini has praised Arsene Wenger’s influence on Arsenal ahead of his 1000th match in charge of the north London club, and hopes that the Gunners will follow up the milestone with a Premier League and FA Cup double.
Having taken the reins in 1996, Wenger will walk out at Stamford Bridge on Saturday to reach the landmark, and Flamini feels that the 64-year-old’s desire to stay true to his philosophy of attacking football gives Arsenal a real chance of ending their trophy drought which stretches back to 2005.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Flamini said: “It's an unbelievable achievement. He means so much to the club for the achievements he has done until now. Congratulations to him, first of all.
“I think it's someone who knows exactly what he wants. He has a vision since the beginning, he's moved to Arsenal and he still has the same one. He know exactly how he wants to play. That's remarkable.
Arsene Wenger's worst signings XI
Arsene Wenger's worst signings XI
1/11 Richard Wright
After impressing at Ipswich, Wright was signed in 2001 as the heir to David Seaman's No 1 shirt, but his time at Highbury was remembered for error after error, and he was eventually usurped by young Stuart Taylor
2/11 Oleg Luzhny
Known as "The Horse" for his galloping runs, but played like he was wearing blinkers. Joined from Dynamo Kyiv in 1999
3/11 Igors Stepanovs
Tried to marshal the Gunners against Manchester United at Old Trafford in disastrous consequences, the team conceding five before half-time and memorably losing 6-1. Latvian signed from Skonto Riga in 2000
4/11 Sebastien Squillaci
French international joined for £4m from Sevilla in 2010. Made 39 largely woeful appearances for the club, and left on a free last year
5/11 Andre Santos
The least said about Santos the better. Wenger said the "quality" left-back had "Champions League experience" when he was signed from Fenerbahce for £6.2m in 2011 but he had yet to play even in the full competition. Was he even talking about the same player?
6/11 Junichi Inamoto
The Japanese midfielder joined from Gamba Osaka in 2001, in a move that was portrayed as a cynical marketing ploy for the Gunners to tap into the Far East market. The doubters had a point, he failed to make a Premier League appearance for the club before leaving to join Fulham a year later
7/11 Amaury Bischoff
Wenger admitted he had taken "a gamble" on signing the injury-hit Portuguese midfielder in 2008. The gamble didn't pay off - he only played one Premier League match for the Gunners before leaving the following season
He may now be setting the world alight for Roma in Italy, but the Gervinho at Arsenal was a different beast - one that could not cross or shoot, and confused himself when he was running with the ball
9/11 Park Ju-Young
Park who? I hear you cry. Despite scoring on his debut, the South Korean striker only ever made seven appearances in three years at the club. He is now paying his trade on loan at Watford
10/11 Marouane Chamakh
The Moroccan target man joined from Bordeaux with fine Champions League pedigree. Unfortunately he did not ever get close to replicating this for the Gunners
11/11 Francis Jeffers
The "Fox in the Box" was not a wily signing for £8m. He scored eight goals during his time at Arsenal, meaning every goal he scored set the club back a cool £1m
“He's not really changed, he's still the same person. He had a philosophy before and he still has the same ones, that's why it's so easy for me to come back and to find my place in this team.
“They were playing a certain football before and they still play the same. The focus is on small passes and high pressing and to attack. At Arsenal the football is focused on attacking and playing nice football.
“His philosophy was exactly the same - his style, his management and desire to win.”
Flamini returned to the club at the beginning of the season, having left Italian side AC Milan following a five-year spell in Italy after leaving the Gunners in 2008. His return has seen an instalment of the rough side of the game introduced to the Arsenal midfield, an area where they have lacked the physicality that Flamini provides.
He also brings a clear determination to succeed, and has set his sights on experiencing the same double that Wenger has secured twice in his career, having won both the Premier League and the FA Cup in 1997-98 and 2001-02.
The French midfielder stresses that the marathon that is the Premier League title race has now become a sprint, and he has set a target for the Gunners to win each of their nine league matches as well as a potential two visits to Wembley should they overcome Everton in the FA Cup semi-final.
“We have a few more games to come which are not easy, because Chelsea and Manchester City are also fighting for the title,” he explained.
“In the title race, it's very important not to drop any more points because it's not a marathon now, it's a sprint. We have a few more games and we want to win every single one.
“The Premier League is one of the objectives but we still have the FA Cup and we really want to make something of this competition too.
“It's a great opportunity, everyone is waiting for Arsenal to win a title and everyone is talking around the club that Arsenal haven't won a title for a while. It's a great opportunity for us and it's in our hands and I can assure everyone we will do everything to go through and win it this year.
“Both competitions are very important for us. Winning titles is very important for every single player, the management team and the fans. We will fight and give everything to win a title this season.
“I'm focused on our team. The Premier League is very competitive, it's a very open championship and that means every single point is important.
“I would love to win a title, it means so much to the players, to the manager and the fans. We believe we can do it, we will give everything to do it.”
Arsenal’s testing run of fixtures continues this weekend as they take on title rivals Chelsea before entertaining Swansea and Manchester City at the Emirates next week.