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The Gunners' vice-captain believes that the Frenchman's return to the Emirates Stadium has allowed greater scope for rotation in midfield to deal with a "demanding" fixture list

Arsenal vice-captain Mikel Arteta believes the addition of Mathieu Flamini has had a significant impact on the Gunners' fortunes this season.

The Frenchman returned to the Emirates Stadium for a second spell in August on a free transfer and has since established himself as a regular in Arsene Wenger's starting XI.

Arteta argues that his presence has been crucial in allowing for greater rotation in the middle of the pitch, in order to deal with a "demanding" fixture list.

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"I think [Flamini's presence] helps the team because we can rotate players and we can play differently," the Spaniard told the club's official website. "We can play with two [in midfield] and it gives us another option.

"No-one has been able to play every game this season. I think the league is getting more demanding. You need a big squad, you can't afford to have only 11 players."

At 31, Arteta could be considered to be reaching the latter stages of his career. However, the Spaniard insists that he is still in top condition.

"When you get to know your body and you have more experience, you are able to learn and read the game better," he remarked. "It makes it easier for you and this is probably the time when I'm enjoying my football most so I want to carry on. For me, age is only a number. I feel very good.

"There will be a day where you start to drop but, for me personally now, if I can play every three days, I'd rather do that."

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