Santi Cazorla, the former Malaga star, must surely be the pick of Arsenal's pre-season signings.
Olivier Giroud has been somewhat ineffective at times and the Arsenal faithful probably had higher hopes for the Frenchman who managed to score 21 Ligue 1 goals for Montpellier last season, finishing joint-top scorer in the French top flight.
He has scored nine Premier League goals and 15 in all competitions for the Gunners and, although not an unimpressive figure, Arsenal fans perhaps expected a bit more from him as he’s missed a lot of crucial chances.
It is unfair to expect Giroud to instantly replace Robin van Persie, though, and I’m sure the French forward will enjoy a very successful second season in England.
Lukas Podolski has also impressed, despite being rather inconsistent in his efforts for Arsenal. The Germany international has scored eight goals in the Premier League and 13 in all competitions. But again, Arsenal fans perhaps expected too much from the German who earned his 100th cap for the imposing Germany side during Euro 2012.
It is also his first season in England and his second season is sure to be a cracker as he’ll become more confident and accustomed to the English game and Arsenal’s particular style of play.
However, if there’s one player that’s adopted the Gunners’ style and slotted right in at the Emirates Stadium, it’s Cazorla. Arsene Wenger signed the midfielder from Malaga in August and he must be ecstatic with the purchase of the exciting and creative midfielder.
The 28-year-old is consistent and versatile enough to play centrally or on the wing – where Wenger has deployed him in recent games - or as a holding midfielder when push comes to shove. His passing is immaculate and he often creates chances with piercing passes and long balls for his teammates. He has scored 11 goals for Arsenal this season and provided six assists.
His relationship and understanding with Jack Wilshere and fellow countryman Mikel Arteta, and their ability to read and play off each other, make them a dangerous trio and a threat to any opponent.
Arsenal have enjoyed an uplifting week after a disastrous period in which the club lost any chance of securing some overdue silverware as well as losing a crucial game to arch-rivals Tottenham, and Cazorla has been central to recent successes.
After the derby defeat at White Hart Lane, the little Spaniard stepped in for the injured Wilshere as the creative player who leads by example and he often carried and motivated the team with positive play during the 2-0 wins at Bayern Munich and Swansea.
The nimble little midfielder hasn’t had many breaks this season and his fatigue was evident against Swansea on Saturday, but he pushed on and gave his all and was voted man of the match against the Welsh side.
Wenger told Arsenal.com afterwards: “You could see Santi Cazorla, for example, was exhausted in the last 20 minutes but he still kept going and overall I am very pleased with the spirit we have shown and the solidarity we have shown."
Cazorla is certainly Wenger’s best signing in recent years and will be central to Arsenal’s push for a top-four spot in the remaining fixtures of this season - and a force to be reckoned with in years to come.
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