Pescara v AC Milan - Serie A

Arsenal re-sign French midfielder Mathieu Flamini from AC Milan


Crack a (wry) smile, Arsenal fans. The Gunners have re-signed midfielder Mathieu Flamini on a free transfer after departing AC Milan.

Manager Arsene Wenger expressed his joy over the deal. “We’re very pleased Mathieu has agreed to rejoin us,” the Arsenal boss told the club’s website. “He is a player of real quality, with a fantastic work rate and great mentality.”

The Gunners know Flamini quite well after the Frenchman spent four years in North London before departing for the Rossoneri in 2008. At Milan, Flamini went on to make 96 Serie A appearances over five seasons, scoring seven goals and notching three assists.

Flamini missed all but two matches of the 2011-12 season after undergoing cruciate ligament surgery on his right knee. Last summer he signed a one year contract extension with the Italian giants after reportedly accepting a substantial pay-cut. After that contract expired this summer, Flamini returned to train with the Gunners where he impressed Wenger enough to put pen to paper.

The 29 year old is expected to contribute in the midfield and possibly even the Gunners defense. It was the former, however, where Flamini contributed the most during his last stint in England. After an initial few years of lacking a clear position and role with the club, Flamini formed a strong partnership with Cesc Fabregas in 2007-08. But that summer his contract ran down and, not feeling particularly valued by the Gunners, Flamini left for the perceived greener pastures of Milan.

After failing to hit full stride in Italy, Flamini returns to Wenger with the hope of salvaging a career that promised so much yet never truly delivered.

The hopes of Arsenal supporters will be tempered. Flamini will always be an injury concern and it would be a legitimate surprise if the Frenchman’s play rose to any level beyond that of a role player.

That is, after all, the reality of signing a 29 year old on a free transfer.

MLS Snapshot: Colorado Rapids 1-2 Real Salt Lake

SANDY UT - MARCH 14: Olmes Garcia #13 of Real Salt Lake celebrates his goal during their game against the Philadelphia Union at Rio Tinto Stadium on March 14, 2015 in Sandy, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
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The game in 100 words (or less): Real Salt Lake stays alive in the hunt for a playoff berth in the Western Conference with a crucial 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids. After falling behind early, RSL scored twice before halftime and held onto the lead for the rest of the match, moving within three points of the final playoff spot in the West. Real Salt Lake has three matches remaining, including a massive clash against the Portland Timbers, which will pretty much decide their season. For Colorado, it’s another year without playoff soccer.

[ MORE: FC Dallas clinches playoff berth ]

Three moments that mattered

16′ — Doyle heads Colorado into the lead — The former Premier League man gave the home side an early lead, thanks to a powerful header from quite a bit out. Sean St. Ledger played in a cross, where Doyle snapped a header into the top corner past Nick Rimando.

33′ — Joao Plata bends in the free kick — Trailing 1-0, Joao Plata drew RSL level with a brilliant free kick. Plata’s shot dipped over the wall and under the crossbar, as Clint Irwin stood helpless in goal for Colorado.

43′ — Mulholland fires home a volley to put RSL ahead — Luke Mulholland scored his first goal of the season, and it was a beauty. A corner kick popped out to the midfielder at the top of the box, as he rifled a shot off the bounce and into the side netting.

Man of the match: Luke Mulholland

Goalscorers: Doyle (16′), Plata (33′), Mulholland (43′)

Wenger lauds team spirit following Arsenal’s big win

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Arsenal put on a superb performance against Manchester United today, flying out to a three-goal lead in the opening 20 minutes of the match.

[ RECAP: Arsenal 3-0 Manchester United ]

United was stunned by the fast-paced, free-flowing Arsenal attack, unable to recover from the Gunners’ early dominance.

All of this came on the heels of a disappointing loss to Olympiacos in the Champions League, after which many questioned manager Arsene Wenger and his side.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Arsenal’s win vs. Manchester United ]

Following the big 3-0 win at the Emirates, Wenger praised his team’s spirit, saying there were outstanding performances throughout the side.

You go from Petr Cech up to Theo Walcott, and we had only outstanding performances. Sometimes we have that magic side in our game.

[Against Olympiacos] maybe we lacked a little bit of urgency and discipline, and that’s why we lost the game. But let’s not forget, last Saturday we won 5-2 at Leicester. Today we beat Man United 3-0.

[The players] have shown that we have an outstanding spirit in the squad. To respond the way we did after what happened to us, you need to have an exceptional spirit.

The Gunners’ performance today immediately silenced all the critics, as Wenger’s side put out on a display that many have been waiting for all season. The combination play of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott was brilliant, as Santi Cazorla continued to impress in the center of the midfield.

Wenger’s teams have not always been known to show strong heart and resiliency, but that’s exactly what they showed today against a Manchester United side that was in great form. Now sitting second on the table, Arsenal continues to climb up the Premier League.