If Arsenal had not slipped up so many times to allow the current Premier League leaders to open up such a big, and frankly unbridgeable, gap at the top of the table then we Arsenal fans would have been hoping for the boost that our team would get when the injury hit Spanish midfield star Santi Cazorla was fit to play again.
We would have been disappointed, though, and even though there is no chance of us beating Chelsea to the title, we still have the hopes of winning the FA cup trophy and the fight for the top four to worry about. So the news reported by the Daily Mail that Cazorla has suffered yet another setback on his road to recovery and will not feature for Arsenal again this season is a pretty big blow.
The question is, how much of a blow is this news and how much has his long spell on the sidelines hurt the Gunners and our chances of making this season a successful one? It is impossible to say for sure, but a lot of Arsenal fans have been suggesting on social media that Cazorla is a hugely important player for us and that our challenge for the EPL title would have been much stronger had he not picked up that ankle injury in October.
On the other hand a Metro report has rubbished this theory and claimed that the problems of Arsenal are much bigger than missing just one player and that the Spaniard is not the sort to help the Gunners to win games, so which is closer to the truth?
My opinion is that we really miss Cazorla in the middle. He already had a couple of assists in his eight league games this season but he was often the man to get a creative and attacking move started. He made the job of Mesut Ozil easier and the two combined to great effect. I would also point to that away game at Man City when Cazorla ran the show and Arsenal finally showed that we could compete in away games against the big boys.
The Metro report does point out that Arsenal’s win percentage since the start of last season shows a big increase from 50 percent to 62.5 percent with Cazorla in the side and a comparison of the games with and without him this season tells a sad story.
The Gunners took 17 points from the eight games he played and then 33 points in the 17 games since and that recuced our points per game from 2.38 to 1.94. Even more frustrating is when you multiply the 25 games we have played in the Premier League by that first figure because it would put us just half a point behind Chelsea. And the eight games he played did include the slow start when we had no defenders and were missing a lot of players after the summer tournaments.
Cazorla is not the only Arsenal star to have missed games for one reason or another, of course, and there are lots of factors involved in whether or not Arsenal would have been closer to, level with, or even above the current leaders had our little magician stayed fit, but I think we have to accept that his loss was a blow. How big do you think it was?