Arsenal, on the league table are back in somewhat familiar surroundings, sitting fourth on the Premier League table, two points behind surprise leaders, Liverpool. After early season blips against Liverpool and Leicester, where the Gunners could only muster one point from a possible six, Arsenal went on a six match winning run in the Premier League, which coincided with the return of influential play maker, Santi Cazorla into the first team. 5 points in their last 3 games which the Spaniard has been missing has led to claims that the 31 year old is the key to his club sustaining a prolonged title challenge.
The past 12 years have proved difficult for loyal fans of the club to swallow. Years of hurt, coupled with the fact that teams like Chelsea and Manchester City, who were nowhere the level of the Arsenal’s Invincibles, have won the league multiple times since they last won the league in 2004.
Arsene Wenger has had to battle criticism over this latter managerial career at the Emirates, finally winning a trophy in 2014 after 9 years with the collection of the FA Cup. Santi Cazorla has been massive for the Gunners this season, orchestrating play from his deep midfield position. Alongside a more orthodox defensive midfielder like Xhaka or Coquelin beside him, he has offered the platform to pull strings from his position.
This has enabled the likes of Ozil, Sanchez, Walcott and Iwobi the platform to thrive in an attacking sense, with the assurance that they have someone behind them who is assured in possession and always knows how to pick the right pass.
Cazorla, whose current deal runs out at the end of the season has not hid his desire to one day return to his homeland, but has set his sights on winning the league before he does. He has played 11 matches across all competitions this term, delivering 2 goals and 3 assists. He is currently out on the sidelines with an Achilles injury, though it is expected he will be fit for the crucial away game at Old Trafford in a fortnight.
Santi is a central midfielder capable of playing a variety of positions on the pitch. In his earlier career, he played further forward and in his latter years, he has been played as a defensive midfielder to exploit his vision and exquisite passing range. None of the other Arsenal central midfielders offers what he brings to the pitch. A touch of class, balance between attack and defence and unbelievable synchronization with the attack line.
If this season is to be successful for Arsenal they need their no 19 back.