There are a number of theories about why Arsenal have been struggling of late and one of them that just about anyone who has been watching the Gunners in recent years will agree with to some extent is that we are missing our Spanish international star Santi Cazorla.
I was one of the Arsenal fans who raised their eyebrows when Arsene Wenger started using the little magician in his new central midfield role but soon had to hold my hand up and admit that the prof got that completely right. Cazorla is now a vital cog in the way Arsenal play and he links both ends of the pitch together and sets the tempo with his passing, whether it is the simple stuff to keep us ticking or the defence splitting pass that sets up chances.
There is no word on when he will be back from his injury though, so the manager is looking for someone to step up and do the job that the Spaniard normally does for Arsenal, and I think it is Granit Xhaka that the Frenchman has in mind as he spoke about both Gunners in a report on the Arsenal website.
Wenger said, “He’s important to our technical stability in the team, to the quality of our decision-making and to our build-up from deep midfield to the high midfield. That’s an important stage because it gets the ball out from the defenders.
“We have enough quality players in our side to get around that, even if Santi a massive player for us. We are good enough to find solutions despite the fact he’s not there.”
Then on Xhaka he said, “I’m very happy with Granit’s commitment. I think he’s developing well. He hasn’t maybe started enough since the start of the season but he is adapting to a different league, a different way of playing. Overall I’m happy because every day he’s focused on working hard and I’m confident he’ll get his number of games.
“In November you see the first signs of players who need a little breather, especially in areas where you fight and run a lot. I try to combine both to give players fresh legs and also get around the fact that Santi’s not there.”
So is Wenger planning to start Xhaka against Bournemouth in the hope that he can be the player to fill the boots of super Santi?