It’s the end of the footballing season and now is the time to review the performance of each player through this season and now it’s time for Santi Cazorla.
Just like last year, he started the season playing on the left of the attack after the manager gave Mesut Ozil an extended rest after their world cup exploits in Brazil 2014. He was left on the sidelines when Ozil came back into the squad and played on the left of 4-1-4-1 and was sparsely used until the injury crisis struck.
After Ozil got injured when he picked up a knock in the home match against Chelsea, the creative burden of the team soon fell on him. Back to role of No.10 which he knows best, the Spaniard consistently produced match winning displays that won him the Barclay’s player of the month awards for two consecutive months in January and February.
With Ozil back in full fitness, Arsene tinkered with the formation to provide place for both of them in a 4-2-3-1 formation. It was when he practically reinvented himself into the deep lying play-maker role. It meant odd pair of Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla formed the engine for the team. With the Frenchman brilliant at winning the ball back and the little magician equally good at distributing it, the Gunners thrived.
His control in tight spaces and confidence on the ball allowed the North London club to break pressure and counter in numerous games. One of the best examples of that was his performance at Etihad which earned the Gunners a vital away win. His best individual performance of the season also helped the team gain momentum which led to a good run of games for the club.
Alongside the 24 year old who embraced the physical duel in the middle of the park, Cazorla flourished in his new role spraying long balls and pulling the strings from the deep and controlling the tempo of the game from the centre. His season high successful passes of 154 in a single game vs West Brom demonstrated his ability to act as a pivot to run the show. He also stepped up his defensive side of the game making important tackles which previously was not very typical of him.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that the Chilean forward Alexis and Wenger hold him in high regard. In the latter words, he exemplifies the need of being good with both feet and being technically excellent for a midfielder.
The diminutive play-maker finished the season with 11 assists only behind Fabregas. He was outstanding for large parts of the season which started dimly and faded towards the end which could be attributed to fatigue. His position is now under threat by Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey but his new found flexibility in the deeper role means that he will be an important player for the team ahead of next season and now is crucial peg for Arsenal’s attacking brand of football.
What did you think of Cazorla’s performances this season?