Santi Cazorla injury opens the door for Arsenal to play with genuine width

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Santi Cazorla's injury certainly came as a major disappointment for Arsenal given the Spaniard's technical gifts, but in some respects the midfielder's absence has benefited the Gunners.

Firstly, it has had the obvious benefit of allowing Aaron Ramsey to play in his favoured central midfield position, with the Welshman having thrived in recent games by providing an attacking threat that has been absent from Cazorla's performances this season.

A further consequence is that moving Ramsey infield has enabled Arsenal to play with two genuine wingers and subsequently Arsene Wenger's side now appear far more dangerous going forwards than they did previously.


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Ramsey did have something of an impact on the right flank, but when he was deployed there the 24-year-old frequently drifted inside, meaning right-back Hector Bellerin often had nobody to pass to ahead of him.

That problem no longer exists, with Bellerin now having a wide option (either Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or the improving Joel Campbell) with whom he can link up and make overlapping runs for.

This is also to the benefit of Olivier Giroud, with the Gunners now able to get an increased amount of crosses into the penalty area which the Frenchman can attempt to tuck away.

It is true that Arsenal's recent run of games hasn't seen them come up against a top quality side, and Manchester City's visit to Emirates Stadium on Monday night certainly asked questions of the Gunners at times, but they battled through to record a fantastic 2-1 victory.

A good balance

There are concerns that Arsenal's midfield has been a little too open in recent games, with Mathieu Flamini, for all his experience, not offering the same protection to the defence as Francis Coquelin is capable of providing.

Flamini does often remain deep, however, enabling Ramsey to push forwards on a regular basis, as he did to excellent effect against Aston Villa.

It is the deployment of fast players out wide, though, that has really benefitted Arsenal of late. Walcott may prefer to play as a striker, but the England international can still have an impact from wide areas, whilst Oxlade-Chamberlain could certainly improve his return in terms of goals and assists, but his pace and trickery is still capable of causing problems for opposing defenders.

So far, though, Cazorla's injury, despite the midfielder's brilliance, appears to have benefitted Arsenal rather than harmed them. 

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