Santi Cazorla: Thoughts on his Hot and Cold Form this Season
Santi Cazorla’s performances were so consistent in his debut campaign with the club and he notched up a career-best 12 goals and a boatload of assists in the course of the season. According to WhoScored last season, Cazorla fired 115 shots, created 96 chances, attempted 86 dribbles, was fouled 50 times, made 184 crosses, passed the ball 2,471 times with a pass completion percentage of 86.8 percent.
His omission from the 2013 PFA Team of the Year bewildered Arsene Wenger, but it didn’t matter because the Emirates faithful knew that they had finally found a true replacement for the departed Cesc Fabregas. Santi Cazorla was a joy to watch last season and in as much as many Gooners have endeared Tomas Rosicky to their hearts, he spent a considerable chunk of the 2012/13 campaign on the bench due to Cazorla’s imperious form. Cazorla’s versatility has also seen him displace Lukas Podolski on the left on several occasions with Jack Wilshere moved further up the pitch to hone his attacking prowess, which is still a work in progress.
It was expected that Santi Cazorla was going to build on the good work he had done last season but he didn’t do really well when he came off the bench in Arsenal’s opening day home defeat to Aston Villa. After creating an assist against Fulham and a good outing in the North London derby, Cazorla suffered an ankle injury that sidelined him for five weeks.
On his long-awaited return from injury, Cazorla became a different player and his influence wasn’t seen in the games he played. Just went we thought he had reached his nadir, he put up a breathtaking performance against Liverpool, scoring a wonderful goal after his initial header hit the post.
Shortly after the Liverpool game, Cazorla played so poorly in subsequent games and he couldn’t even stay on the pitch for 90 minutes as he was always replaced. In the turn of the New Year, Cazorla picked himself up and started playing some good football. After a good performance against Cardiff, Cazorla scored Arsenal’s opener in the FA Cup third round clash against Tottenham.
However, he followed it up with a rather timid performance against Aston Villa and his woes were compounded when he gave the ball away further up the pitch which ultimately led to Christian Benteke’s goal that put his team under intense pressure. This weekend, Santi Cazorla has popped up again with a Man of the Match performance against Fulham, scoring the goals that put the struggling team to the sword.
As you’d expect from a coach oozing class, Arsene Wenger was quick to praise the diminutive Spaniard,
“He was out for a long time at the start of the season and had some injury problems. After that he had an ankle problem and only recently, since mid-December, has he come back to his level.
“When you play in your opponents’ half, in the final third, he is one of the players who can create something special, either through his passing or through his finishing. He is two-footed, and that makes him very dangerous.”
This season has shown that patience is required with some players as they aim to bring their best form as the campaign progresses. Jack Wilshere was having a torrid time on the flanks and many Arsenal fans didn’t want to see their poster boy on the first-team sheet but since Aaron Ramsey’s unfortunate injury, Wilshere has been drafted to his favored box-to-box role and we have seen how much his performances have drastically improved.
Even after his massively disappointing performance at the Etihad Stadium, Nacho Monreal has also showed signs of improvement, and when Kieran Gibbs suffered an injury, the Spanish full-back has gotten a consistent run of games and we can all see how well he’s doing.
It’s good to see Santi Cazorla score his third goal in three games which brings his tally to four for the season and I hope he can build on this weekend’s performance because the Gunners will be reliant on him and his teammates to come up with the goods when the chips are down.
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