The talisman has been linked with a move to Arsenal and he could very well be THE signing Arsenal need to challenge for titles. Here's why...
7 years and counting.
It seems like an eternity back when Arsenal last won a trophy. A lot of players have come and gone in these 7 years; whether it be Club legends Henry and Vieira or their prodigal son Cesc Fabregas or the ‘mercenaries’ Adebayor and Nasri – Arsenal still failed to add a trophy in their trophy cabinet.
With every new signing, fans hoped that this would finally be the signing who would make all the difference and end their trophy drought. But all Arsenal fans got in return was disappointment.
However, that could all change if Arsenal sign this one man who hails from Asturia. This one man whose ability to create something from absolutely nothing is mesmersing. This one man who can do anything using both feet. This one man whose name is Santiago Cazorla.
Criminally underrated and an all-round midfielder, Santi Cazorla is the player who would give Arsenal the cutting edge which they so desperately need. He adds more to a team than the likes of David Silva, Juan Mata, Mesut Oezil et al – all of these aforementioned players are known for their World-class qualities; Cazorla is unique.
What makes him unique, you may ask. He can play on the left, right, center or deep, is one of the best crossers of the ball, a very good dribbler who can carve his way out of the tightest of spaces with the ball, can execute passes which some players can’t even think of, his free-kicks are deadly, can tackle, can intercept, has a phenomenal work-rate and has an ability to score every now and then.
If he joins Arsenal, he will give Wenger a lot of tactical ploys to use. He could play on the left in a 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 as an inside forward – cutting in from the left, or crossing (this is where his two-footedness comes into play), and giving Giroud/Podolski/Walcott more options.
He could also play on the right as an out-and-out winger in a 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 formation. Wenger might as well use him as a right-winger so that he could supply the 6 foot and 4 inches tall Olivier Giroud with pinpoint crosses for Giroud to exploit. Wenger will bring Giroud into play a lot this way. This actually gives Arsenal a new dimension – a plan B.
Olivier Giroud - Aerial Beast
Or Wenger could play him in his favoured central role.
There are 2 ways in which Wenger can use him here. One is to play right behind the striker in a 4-2-3-1. Another is to play a little – or a lot – deeper in a 4-3-3 formation.
In the hole in a 4-2-3-1, Cazorla could be of great use if the striker is quick. This is where Theo Walcott comes in. Theo has said in the past that he’d like to play as a striker – some Arsenal fans want that too. With Cazorla behind him, he’d be fed with a lot of balls and that, along with Walcott’s speed, would cause a lot of problems to the opposition defense.
Whether Wenger will play Walcott as a striker, however, is yet to be seen as he has already signed 2 strikers in Podolski and Giroud and it looks unlikely that he’d play Walcott as a striker over both of them.
A more likely scenario is Wenger using Cazorla in the trivote consisting of Cazorla himself, Arteta and Song in a 4-3-3. Here, Cazorla’s defensive abilities could be used to the fullest – something that would be crucial as Alex Song isn’t exactly a tactically disciplined player and tends to give away possession easily and also often gets caught out of his position.
Song and Arteta - Santi's Potential Partners In Crime
Cazorla can also play in front of the backline. There are 2 advantages of playing him there. One, his passing – long or short – is fantastic and thus opposition players will have to close him down to prevent him from stamping his authority on the game; and in this process, a lot of space will be opened up in the midfield for Arteta/Song to exploit.
Two: directness and unpredictability from deep. Santi is an excellent dribbler and a fantastic passer – opposition players wouldn’t be sure as to whether he will dribble out from deep or whether he will play a pass to initiate an attack. Also, he is obviously a more direct player than Arteta. This directness and unpredictability from deep would be the X-factor for Arsenal.
With Cazorla, and Arteta, Song’s weaknesses wouldn’t be exposed as much as they both could carry him. However, while covering Song, Santi’s contribution to the attack could decrease – albeit not by much – and this is where a tactically disciplined defensive midfielder would do so much good to Santi and Arsenal.
Knowing Wenger, it seems unlikely that he’d sign a tactically disciplined defensive-midfielder and Cazorla. Even if he doesn’t sign a defensive-midfielder, however, it wouldn’t hurt Arsenal as Santi is very capable of both carrying Song and also fulfilling the creation duties expected of him.
Whatever the case is, Cazorla would give Arsenal a lot of variety. Against stronger oppositions, Wenger could use a 4-3-3, with Santi in a trivote, to contain the pressure of the opposition while not losing the attacking rhythm. And against weaker teams, he could use Santi on the wings, or in a more advanced role, to slit open the opposition defense.
Santi has always proven himself as a difference maker for the teams he has played in – whether it being for Villarreal in their 4thplace finish in the 2010-11 or forMalagain their 4thplace 2011-12. His absence cost Villarreal so much that they got relegated just the season after they sold him (though, Villarreal were also unlucky with Rossi’s injury).
And it won’t be different for Arsenal, either, as he is a player who oozes class on the field. However, he might take 2-4 games to adjust to the Premier League; but once he settles to the pace and physicality of the Premier League, there won’t be any stopping him.
Santi is the closest thing to Iniesta a Club could get and if Arsenal do sign Santi, and if he stays injury-free, he will be the difference-maker which Arsenal so desperately needed.