Saturday's game truly illustrated the amazing talent of Santi Cazorla, as the Spaniard gave yet another sizzling display of his technical skill, as well as his inner fight, in what is becoming an amazing first season for him.
The 27 year old was the heartbeat of the Arsenal side going forward, and his two goals were exactly what the doctor ordered as Arsenal struggled to overcome their opponents. As soon as the Cazrola signing was announced this summer, everyone was full of excitement. This was perhaps the best, biggest name signing for the past 4 or 5 years.
Its not often that Arsenal's 62 year old manager gets so obviously excited by a new signing. But when you get to work with a player of exceptional technical ability, and who evidently enjoys every second of the game, it becomes hard to not recognise the childish adulation Wenger has for Cazorla.
Speaking following the Aston Villa game, Wenger reflected: “I did not expect him to score so many goals, because there are still 11 games to go so he could get a few more.“For me he is a complete player because he also has spirit. He continued to fight until the last minute even though he was a bit tired.
“He is a good example to follow because every day he is happy to come and play and practice. When he is on the pitch he gives you everything.“He is a great player, which you have noticed since the start of the season. I am happy and grateful he delivered two important goals today.”
The two goals have seen Santi reach 11 goals this term, to go with his 6 assists. For a debut season in the Premier League, its hard to find someone who has made more of an instant impact.
Cazorla has cited the "spanish style" of Arsenal's game as the key reason for his quick adaption, as it allows him to use his passing ability. Saturday saw Santi complete 90% of his passes, just above his season average of 87%, with the vast majority being in the final third.The 27 year old also averages 2.4 key passes per game, a total among the highest in the league.
Today, his Arsenal teammates spoke of their admiration for Cazorla, relishing the ease at which he plays the game.Speaking to Arsenal player, Per Mertesacker said “He is the perfect footballer. He has the technique to score goals and that’s what we need after losing the last two home games."
On a similar note, his fellow countryman, Mikel Arteta picked up on how easily Cazorla has settled into this Arsenal side. “I think he’s been outstanding,” Arteta said. “He’s played almost every game and, the way he plays, he takes a lot of knocks and plays a demanding game physically as well. To adapt to the Premier League in his first year and do what he’s doing, I think we have to clap him. He deserves that.
“I think he [Cazorla] needed a few goals like that. He helped the team to earn the points today. He was outstanding - his overall play as well. He was involved in many areas of the pitch today and he’s a top player."
Cazorla has been deployed predominantly in the number 10 role this year, using his technique, dribbling skills an vision to create numerous chances for the forwards ahead of him.
However, more recently Arsene has pushed Jack Wilshere into a more advanced role, with the Spanish talisman featuring on the left hand side for the Gunners, with the freedom to maneuver his way around the pitch as he wishes. This has allowed Arsenal to gain more potency as an attacking force, with Wilshere and Cazorla illustrating their skills and linking up well together.
Arteta went on to pick up on the strength of the Arsenal line up with Santi playing out wide, saying, “He seems to be comfortable when he plays off the left. He’s got a lot of freedom and he causes problems to the other teams because we can use the extra man in midfield."“I think he’s a player that can make the difference with his ability. I think Jack’s another one of them that has something special that can decide a game or can unlock a door when the game is really tight, as he did today with the ball to Nacho. For us, they are very important players."
There is no doubt that Cazorla is one of our most important players, especially considering that in games where he has been at his best, Arsenal have tended to dominate.Yet, there is definitely still more to come from the silky Spaniard. Despite his impressive tally of goals and assists, there have been numerous chances squandered by the diminutive playmaker, and he could have easily reached 15 goals and 10 assists by this stage of the season.
Moreover, we are yet to see Cazorla dominate in the big fixtures, against the sides competing with us at the top of the league. In fact, many have stated that he has gone missing in these massively important fixtures.
Whilst I personally would not go that far, we are definitely inclined to ask more from Santi in these types of matches. Other than a consolation goal against United at Old Trafford - albeit one which was superbly taken - and a somewhat impressive second half display at the Bridge, we haven't seen enough of the Spaniard, especially considering the talent at his disposal.
However Sunday offers him a chance to make up for all that, in what is going to be the biggest game of our season. A goal against Tottenham, and an outstanding performance to go with it will perhaps write his name into Gunners folklore, as well as giving him the confidence to kick on for the rest of the season and drive the Gunners into next years Champions League.
Come on Santi. Come on Arsenal.