Why Arsenal should hold on to Santi Cazorla
Santi Cazorla – Why Arsenal should hold on to him.
Ever since signing from Málaga CF in August 2012, Santi Cazorla has been a key player in the Arsenal midfield.In the last few seasons, Arsène Wenger has preferred a 4-2-3-1 formation with two central holding midfielders entrusted with the job of playing from box-to-box.
With the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Francis Coquelin, Mohamed Elneny, Granit Xhaka, Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere (currently on loan to AFC Bournemouth) vying for the spots, Santi Cazorla remains a preferable option along with Coquelin.
His unique qualities and features speak for themselves. Equally capable with both feet, he has the unique achievement of scoring from freekicks from both his legs. “Little Magician”, as the Arsenal fans call him, he possesses a brilliant ball controlling ability, exceptional vision and an improbable work rate that makes him an instrumental figure in the Arsenal squad. Cazorla is a regular penalty taker and even takes corners on a regular basis nowadays.
Commenting on his brilliance with both feet, Theo Walcott once said, “I don’t even know which footed he (Cazorla) is, to be honest.” He is the one to break opposition defences with key passes and even make crucial interceptions to stop oppositions’ attack.
None of the current crops of Arsenal players possesses the skill set of Cazorla. Aaron Ramsey is the shadow of the player he was during the 2013-14 season while Elneny doesn’t get enough game time. Coquelin is more of a blocking midfielder and needs Cazorla on his side to produce his best game. Granit Xhaka’s inclusion has been mired with disciplinary issues and has different attributes as compared to Cazorla.
While Jack Wilshere possesses the ability to take Cazorla’s place in the midfield, his injury record has been alarming. During the 2013-14 and 2015-16 season, he missed a total of 84 games owing to injuries. Currently on loan at Bournemouth, Wilshere has made an impact whenever he played and is expected to return next season. Although some reports suggest that he is open to a move to Italy or will only return to Arsenal if Wenger promises him adequate game time, his presence can certainly make a difference.
On the other hand, Cazorla’s injury record has also been pretty disturbing. During the 2015-16 season, he missed a total of 28 games owing to a knee injury and Achilles irritation. This season has also proved to be unconvincing with Cazorla missing a total of 42 games owing to an ankle injury and is not expected to play a further part. Currently at the ripe age of 32, expectations have certainly taken a backseat.
Mainly, owing to Cazorla’s presence in midfield, the whole team appear to play the perfect game. Since most matches in the present day are primarily decided by the midfield battle, Arsenal often fall invaluably short against big teams without Cazorla to orchestrate the midfield. But even if he stays on, his on-field influence can be slowly diminishing.
Then again, there is no adequate replacement in the present Arsenal squad.
The Arsenal management should ensure that Cazorla stays at the club until a suitable replacement is found. While his age and persistent injury problems do pose a challenge, Cazorla can still be considered an instrumental figure in the Arsenal midfield.