23 August 2014 21:43
Mathieu Flamini feels Saturday’s last-gasp 2-2 Premier League draw at Everton shows Arsenal have learned hard lessons from last season.
Arsene Wenger’s side received heavy defeats at the hands of champions Manchester City and fellow title chasers Liverpool and Chelsea in 2013-14.
In April, they were also convincingly dispatched 3-0 at Goodison Park before overhauling Roberto Martinez’s men to claim the final UEFA Champions League qualification spot.
They appeared to be on course for a repeat dose as Seamus Coleman and Steven Naismith handed Everton a 2-0 half-time lead, with Arsenal labouring on that back of their midweek exertions in Turkey against Besiktas.
But Aaron Ramsey reduced the arrears with seven minutes remaining before Olivier Giroud – on at half-time for a disappointing Alexis Sanchez – headed home Nacho Monreal’s cross in the final minute of normal time.
“We’ll say it’s a great performance because we were 2-0 down. It was great spirit from the boys because it was not easy,” Flamini told Sky Sports
“At half-time the manager said there was space to create opportunities and we believed we could do it.
“We have learned a lot from last year from when we were playing against these top teams.
“We didn’t give up until the last second and that was important. This is a game to remember for us.”
But Wenger sounded a note of caution ahead of the return leg against Besiktas – into which Arsenal take a goalless draw – as he revealed Giroud is an injury doubt following an incident in stoppage time.
“It was a stretched ankle, at the moment it doesn’t look too good,” he told Sky Sports.
On the game itself, Wenger joined Flamini in praising Arsenal’s character.
“We have a great response with complete desire to come back and the spirit was fantastic,” he said.
“In the end we got back to 2-2 and we got a strong point but a deserved one if you look at the chances we had, especially in the second half. We came back very late but our spirit got us a point.
“It shows the belief and the resilience is there. The second goal was offside but we took it on the chin and came back.”