How vital will Arsenal's Santi Cazorla be against Southampton?
Santi Cazorla has been involved in three of Arsenal’s six goals this season, scoring once and assisting twice. The magic Spaniard started against Watford and Leicester, but only came on as a second half substitute against Liverpool. He is a sure starter in today’s game at the Emirates, alongside new signing Granit Xhaka. If the Gunners are to have a good performance today, then surely Cazorla will be at the heart of it again.
Santi missed most of the season last year, after injuring himself in a game against Norwich all the way back in November. Arsenal certainly missed his presence in the middle of the park, his skill-full mind always creating space to run into and provide forward passes to the attackers in-front of him. He might not have started his career as a deep midfielder, but that is certainly his position now.
Now that he has a new partner in Xhaka, could the Spaniard take his game to the next level? The stats suggest he has started the season in fine form, and indeed he was Arsenal’s best player in pre-season. Form aside, Xhaka has allowed Cazorla to go forward more and do what he does best. While Elneny and Coquelin and both excellent midfielders, they both enjoy going forward, but Xhaka seems to be the type of player who knows what his job is and does it well. This could be a reason for Cazorla becoming vital to Arsenal this season.
Against Liverpool, the ex-Malaga midfielder didn’t start, and as well as Arsenal did in the first half, they lacked composed players in the second. When Cazorla came on, they improved and the Spaniard even got an assist from a free-kick. This is another element that is vital to the Gunners, Cazorla has a delivery to envy, causing havoc in the oppositions box. The set-piece side to his game is something that will be vitally important going forward.
In today’s game against Southampton, Arsenal will be expected to dominate against a side who haven’t quite settled under their new manager. Plenty of possession, but the Gunners do have a history of struggling to break the Saints down. This will be a game where Cazorla will be crucial, whether it be via his composure, leadership skills, magical pass or majestic set-piece.
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