Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has lauded Spanish playmaker Santi Cazorla ahead of Sunday's north London derby against Tottenham Hotspur, describing his technical abilities as vital.
The Gunners boss praised the 28-year-old's achievements during his first season in the Premier League and acclaimed his midfield skill set, and in particular, his ambidextrousness. Though Cazorla is right-footed, he has proven to be skilful on either foot and has even taken corners with his 'weaker' left.
Wenger told Arsenal.com: "Where he stands out is his outstanding technical talent. He is so ambidextrous. I know that he is right-footed but you don't see a real difference between right and left.
"I would say for a midfielder, it is absolutely vital to be ambidextrous today. In the education, that is something for the midfielders that we have to make absolutely compulsory at a very young age now."
Spurs' Gareth Bale may have been the star of north London this season, but Cazorla has earned rave reviews from fans and the media since his summer transfer from Malaga.
The Spaniard has grabbed six assists and netted 11 goals this term, becoming the first Arsenal player since Thierry Henry to score double figures in their debut Premier League season.
Wenger was full of praise for his midfield star: "Where he is absolutely fantastic as well is his love for the game. He loves football.
"His low centre of gravity and change of direction makes him a little bit like Jack [Wilshere]. Both of them have that extreme quality that can destabilise any opponent."
"I believe that this season, for a first season in England, he has been absolutely outstanding."
Though eyes will be on Bale for Sunday's showdown at White Hart Lane, Cazorla could be the key man as Arsenal look to claim the victory that will take them within one point of their north London rivals.