No room for Santi in crunch games?
The next two matches could go a long way to deciding whether Arsenal are title challengers or, once again, also-rans in the fight for the Premier League. We are in a strong position at the moment, at 2/1 in the Premier League outright betting odds, and with that in mind, should Arsène Wenger play it safe and leave out the currently under-par Santi Cazorla?
It is safe to say Santi has become a firm favourite down at the Grove in his 16 months at the club, picking up Arsenal’s Player of the Year award in May. After such a good start to life in north London many expected the Spaniard to kick on this season, and the signing of Mesut Özil had many salivating at the prospect of the duo playing together.
However, rather than flourish with Özil in the team, Cazorla has gone into his shell a bit, managing one goal in 17 appearances so far. Özil and Cazorla are similar types of players and with that in mind maybe there isn’t room for both in Arsène’s first team.
Given the money they spent on him and the way he has performed since joining, Özil is always likely to win out in any selection dilemma Arsène may have. With that in mind, and given the calibre of the opposition attack in the next two matches, would it be for the best if Cazorla was benched for the games with Manchester City and Chelsea?
Should the Gunners go too gung-ho at the Etihad Stadium they risk being taken apart by City, who look at this time to be the biggest threat to Arsenal’s title dreams. City are odds-on to beat Arsenal in the Paddy Power match odds. Given City’s attacking talents it would be no surprise to see Cazorla make way for Mathieu Flamini to add a bit of bite to our midfield. Wenger might be tempted to leave Jack Wilshere out given his own dip in form but his work rate could see him get the nod ahead of Santi.
The following match at home to Chelsea will also give Arsene a selection headache if he has a full complement to choose from. It is well documented that his record isn’t good against Jose Mourinho and he may be tempted to go all out for the win given the Blues’ recent issues.
However, an area where Chelsea have done us in the past has been in midfield, where their power has made the difference. Given Ramires could run riot in the middle of the park if given the opportunity, Flamini’s inclusion may be a necessity to tame the Brazilian. As we saw in the game with Everton Mikel Arteta can get overwhelmed in the middle if he has no support.
This piece isn’t an attack on Cazorla but rather what the team needs to get through two of the biggest games of the season. Also, imagine bringing on a player of the Spaniard’s quality if the Gunners need a game changer?
It shows Arsenal’s strength in depth in midfield to even consider dropping Cazorla, an idea which would have been shot down immediately 12 months ago. How quickly football changes!
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