I am a relatively new Arsenal supporter from Boston and have been avidly watching every game this season. It seems to me that we've played our best when Flamini is on the pitch and almost all the periods of bad form have been when he has been off. All the rest of our best midfielders have an attacking instinct and Flamini is our only true defensive midfielder. Even Arteta likes to push up and get involved. With Flamini on the pitch, Ramsey, Wilshire, and Gibbs and Sagna from the backfield can push up with confidence. But with Flamini out for the next couple of weeks as we enter some tough matches, I'm worried we'll get burned on the counter, like we did with Dortmund. Our attacking spirit is great but needs to be balanced with discipline.
I wonder whether it makes sense to try Vermaelen out as a central midfielder playing just in front of the defense. Having a solid defensive player in the Flamini role would help the more attacking midfielders push up. At least until the January transfer window. And I think he has the skills to play in midfield.