Looking back to 2012 I seem to remember that the signing of our little Spanish maestro seemed to come out of no where. While he was relatively well known, Cazorla, given the amount of International experience he had, it's quite strange, how there wasn't more interest form other clubs. We signed him for under £20 million which is a bargain whatever way you look at it and he has gone on to become instrumental for the club and has nailed down the central midfield position as his own.
When the club signed Mesut Ozil, Santi was pushed out wide to accommodate for his arrival and this impacted upon his form and efficiency. In his first season (2012/13) Cazorla scored 12 goals, strangely enough all coming in the Premier League, whereas his goal return went down the following season to 7. Although it must be pointed out that he did play in less games, but it was his general performances which weren't holding up in comparison to his first season; he just isn't made to play out wide in the Premier League.
Last season the manager finally found the right balance and moved Cazorla into the centre, further back in a double pivot (usually with Coquelin) and while his goal tally didn't see a miraculous jump, (going up by one to 8 overall for the season), his form and contribution to the team did. Cazorla was excellent in this position and is perhaps best summed up by his fantastic performance away to Man City. Just look up that run he made in the second half dribbling away from three or four players and then making a block at the end; it was everything you could ask for from a central midfielder.
I find it amusing when people talk about Cazorla playing in that position, Gary Neville for one has constantly raised doubts about his physical stature against the big teams. However, it seems that the big matches are where Cazorla shines best. City away and Liverpool at home last season and United this season.
Cazorla has made the midfield position his little playground, his ability to use both feet and how fast he can switch the ball onto either foot combined with that burst of speed to get away from people is crucial to our game. He is the cog in our quick transition play and can adapt better than most in different styles of play; whether we play on the break or try to dominate possession. With 33 assists (All stats taken from Arsenal.com) already to his name as an Arsenal player none of his Premier League peers can boast better, since his arrival in 2012..
Anyway here is what Wenger had to say about the signing, admitting he had his doubts at first, again from the official club website;
“You could question whether he was physically equipped to play in the tough Premier League, “It's true that I had that doubt, but his quality was so big that I was ready to take that gamble.
“His technical quality, his right foot, left foot, his availability, his vision and the quality of his passing made me go for it.
“I thought, 'If there is a team in the Premier League where he has a chance to make it, it's with us.' That's why I went for it.”
He went on to describe when he first saw him and came recommended form Pires;
“I think I first saw him when he was about 20 or 21. He was not a regular player, but in some games we watched you could see he had talent.
“After that Robert Pires moved to Villarreal and played with him. Sometimes I asked Robert, ‘Are there any good players there?’
“He said to me straight away, ‘Cazorla is a fantastic player’. So Robert was a scout for me! He at least confirmed the impression I already had about Santi.”
So there you have it; Santi Cazorla the gift that keeps on giving.
What do you think of his overall contribution to Arsenal? Let me know in the comments. I also posted a piece on international football earlier that you can read by clicking here
Until Next time, Have a good one!
Subjectively, Cosmic Kid.