Why Santi is Arsenal’s Main Man

Arsenal lost more ground in the title race on Tuesday night, falling to fourth place while all rivals picked up comfortable wins. 

Largely to blame for Arsenal’s third game without a goal in the Premier League is the shambolic performances of the Arsenal midfield.

Since picking up an injury last year away to Norwich, Santi Cazorla has been severely missed in the centre of the midfield. Replaced by Aaron Ramsey, who has been playing alongside Flamini, has resulted in chaotic defending, and indecisive attacking.

Arsenal lead the league at Christmas, and picked up a reasonable 27 points from the 14 games prior to Santi’s injury. In the 10 games so far without, only 18 points have been won.

However it is the form of the team that is the most worrying issue with a lot of those points having been picked up throughout December against relegation battling sides (bar Man City). Arsenal’s run is now 4 games without a win, and 3 games without a goal. Excluding the Burnley FA Cup win.

Cazorla is a magician on the ball. The ball seems to stick to his foot as he wriggles out of every incoming tackle, and more often than not continues by finding a teammate with an incisive ball up the field.

And there you have the difference. Perhaps it goes unnoticed, and often without praise, but Santi picks the ball up deep off the defenders, and moves it on quickly to the ‘flare’ players enabling our quick flowing, counter-attacking football, sometimes chipping in with his own direct assists and goals.

But more often than not, he assists the assists. He has the mind to find Ozil quickly, who in turn can find Walcott, Sanchez, Giroud, and the back of net before the opposition can get back and stop it.

With Ramsey playing in that role, especially against Southampton, we struggled to pick the ball up and move it forward quickly. Too often Sanchez or Ozil would come deep to get that ball, and then they are out of position and the momentum has gone.

Although we still created chances against Southampton, they were not as clear cut as we usually create. And a majority of them came down to crosses, because we simply allowed Southampton’s defenders to get back behind the ball and sit deep.

Flamini is not the best defensive midfielder in the world, but he gives his all to the team, and deserves respect for what he has given the club over the years. I don’t put him at fault for the lack of what I believe Aaron should have provided going forward. However it is clear that Coquelin has the passion for that role and this team, as well as the ability to match.

We must hope and wait for a fully fit Cazorla to return to the fold as soon as possible, he should only be a few weeks away as long as he is on still on schedule.


Wilshere Wait Over

Jack Wilshere, is set for an imminent return to the first team. Any week now expect to see him back in the first team squad, if not playing. It’s almost a certainty that he will get a start in the Capital One Cup, against Reading on the 30th October, perhaps he’ll even play prior to that game at home to QPR in the league. Nobody knows. And when someone knows, ie Wenger. Nobody else will know anyway. Not ’til the time comes at least.

A strong performance against Reading U21’s for Arsenal U21’s has certainly done him no harm in a potential bid to return to first team action by the end of the month. Banfield reported post-match that he had made a ‘big improvement’ from even the week before, and that he was continually getting better everyday in training. Positive. During the match he played a pivotal role in both goals, with crucial balls to players who were then easily able to set up another team-mate. Gnarby and Akpom the goalscorers.

Vermaelen like all of us fans, is delighted at the prospect of Jack’s return. Claiming that in his “first full season… he was amazing” and that he has the potential to “be one of the best midfielders in the world.”

Verm added that “He’s working on his match fitness and that’s the most important thing.” as well as what all of us Gunners are hoping for, “I think in the future [he] will lift the team.” and what a lift it and he could prove to be. A good start to the season considering who we’ve played, and the boost in confidence, not to forget footballing ability that Jack will provide us with is undeniable. A probable 3 pronged midfield with Arteta, Wilshere and best-summer-buy-2012 Cazorla. Likelihood of this to be the case has increased with Diaby’s most recent injury putting him on the sidelines for a period longer than when Jack will hopefully return. Albeit a close call.

In other injury news, Bacary Sagna, a man reported today to be a target of Inter Milan, also played in the U21’s game after 5 months out, after another broken leg. I expect he’ll make a return sooner than Jack, although you can never be certain. Especially what with Jenko playing really well, but we do have a lot of games after the international period, with a return to a game every 3/4 days routine starting at Norwich, then hosting Schalke midweek, QPR at the weekend, the following week at Reading, then a crucial Premier League game that weekend against Manchester United at Old Trafford. And we’ll be in need of getting something there, or we’ll be falling behind further, and although we’d have had the hardest run-in, it will undoubtedly create a pressure or stress for us to do well in all the other games. A situation in which you’d be forgiven for thinking we’ll crumble. Based on past experiences. It seems we play best in a nothing to lose scenario; unfortunately.