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Arsenal Blog: Huge Weekend, Podolski The Striker & Cazorla This Seasons Bright Spark
As we gear up for what could prove to be a pivotal weekend in the race for the top-four, Arsenal blogger Gooner Daily looks ahead at the weekends action and praises Santi Cazorla for his consistency this season.
With Bacary Sagna’s moment of madness against Manchester United quickly becoming a fading memory, all attention will be turned to the intense battle for the remaining Champions League spots between Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and too some extent, Everton. The Toffees have a Merseyside derby to look forward to on Sunday while Arsenal and Tottenham fans will be hoping that Manchester United will do them a favor on Sunday when they welcome Chelsea to Old Trafford.
With Tottenham playing a Southampton side that are ore or less assured of their Premier League status, Arsenal will have a tricky fixture against the recently relegated Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road. Twitchy Ol’ ‘Arry Redknapp couldn’t do his world-famous Houdini magic on a team filled with money-grabbing mercenaries.
Since that morale-boosting win over Champions League finalists, Bayern Munich, Arsenal has gone from strength to strength grabbing maximum points in most of their Premier League encounters with the exception of draws against Everton and Manchester United. Despite the fact that Olivier Giroud has had his fair share of critics this season, last week’s draw against Utd proved his worth to the team as the Gunners couldn’t find a focal point in attack and we missed his link-up play.
Lukas Podolski manned the center forward position vacated by Giroud to no great effect, and Gervinho didn’t even fare better when he replaced the German. However, Arsene Wenger is still prepared to continue playing Poldi through the middle. The German has contributed to his team’s cause with 14 goals thus far, with nine of them scored in the Premier League, so he certainly knows where the goal is but he needs to improve his all-round play.
Arsene Wenger has also commented about his side’s goal-scoring record and he was quite bewildered and perplexed to know that his talismanic midfield maestro, Santi Cazorla, didn’t make it into the 2013 PFA Team of the Year. In fairness, the midfield consisted of Michael Carrick, Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale, and they have all been in phenomenal form this season.
For those that don’t know, the diminutive Spaniard is Arsenal’s highest goalscorer in the Premier League this season with 12 goals, above Giroud and Theo Walcott that have 11 a piece. The Spanish magician has been a model for consistency this season and he’s the only player in the team that has managed to play every Premier League game thus far this season.
The manager also spoke about how Cazorla has surprised him this season with his consistency and amazing fitness levels in a physically demanding league like the Barclay’s Premier League. In my honest opinion, he has been a joy to watch and in as much as many Gooners have endeared Tomas Rosicky to their hearts, he has spent a considerable chunk of the campaign on the bench due to Cazorla’s imperious form. Cazorla’s versatility has also seen him displace Podolski on the left with Jack Wilshere moved further up the pitch, which is still a work in progress.
The midfielder has stated that he felt a sense of responsibility to make an instant impact when he joined the club. As he rightly indicated in his interview with Arsenal Player, the Gunners’ style of play is somewhat similar to his previous clubs in La Liga which is primarily focused on technique and ball possession.
The midfielder didn’t even require any adaptation period and he felt right at home from his debut against Sunderland in August, where he even earned the Man of the Match award. Since then, Arsenal fans chant “Oh Santi Cazorla!” to spur him on when he starts his magic on the field of play. His passes are like hot knife through butter and the way he inexplicably gets himself out from tight situations is more puzzling than knowing what Lionel Messi will do to a goalkeeper when he’s one-on-one.
His ambidexterity is a stuff of legends. Like the great Pavel Nedved in the yesteryear, Santi Cazorla can release a surface to goal missile from both feet with consummate ease.
In just his third game in Arsenal colors, he opened his goalscoring account with a low drive that nicked past Pepe Reina in Anfield and this was followed up with a left-footed thunderbolt against West Ham in Upton Park. He scored Arsenal’s consolation goal in Old Trafford and got in on the act in the demolition of Tottenham before smashing a scintillating hat trick against Reading.
His goal with a deft touch against West Ham was a beauty and his strikes against Sunderland and Aston Villa were very vital in his team’s surge for a Champions League. His last goal came in the 4-1 rout of a Reading doomed to return back to the mediocrity of npower Championship football.
Even if he failed to be recognized by the FA for his amazing exploits this season, you don’t need any soothsayer to tell you who Arsenal’s best player is this season. The club’s brightest spark in a somewhat dark season; Santi Cazorla.
Big game today Gooner. Enjoy. Sayonara.