Santi Cazorla now the man in the way at Arsenal?


After a rather down 2013/14 season, Santi Cazorla recovered quite brilliantly for a steady 2014/15 season that saw him moving from position to position with the same magnitude of impact. He’s emerged as the deep-lying midfield partner for Francis Coquelin despite his smaller size and lack of real defensive prowess in the past.

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And yet, now Santi Cazorla appears to be the man that a couple of Gunners are, well… gunning for. Prior to the FA Cup final, Ian Wright said “I would rather have Walcott [instead of Santi Cazorla],” (via the Express). Similarly, Aaron Ramsey has identified Santi Cazorla as the man who is in his position and must be ousted: “Santi Cazorla is the one in my position. He’s the one who plays alongside Francis Coquelin and tries to get forward. I am trying to get that back,” (via the Mirror).

Santi Cazorla is 30 years old, he’s headed back to Spain at some point, and doesn’t really excel at any one particular thing. He’s good at just about everything but great at just a few. He has a tendency to fade away at times, but being played as a defensive midfielder, that’s understandable. So by those standards, it makes sense that Santi Cazorla is the guy being targeted to be moved aside. I myself have advocated for Jack Wilshere to start in his stead. Why? I just felt like Jack had more potential to do something special.

Santi Cazorla is a great player because of his consistency, but it makes sense that prolific players like Ramsey are gunning for his spot. Aaron Ramsey has the potential to be a game changer whereas Santi Cazorla is more of a game linker or a game enhancer.

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That’s not to say that I’m advocating for Santi Cazorla to be benched (not like I was before), I’m just seeing the trend that Santi Cazorla is the odd man out. He’s the guy that upstarts and returnees are looking to unseat. But thanks to Santi Cazorla’s versatility, no matter who’s gunning for his position, he can always reevaluate and take someone else’s. He’s just that good.

It does sort of feel like Santi Cazorla has a bull’s eye on his back, and yet he may be the furthest player from being sat. It may be a case of Santi Cazorla being the gold standard of midfielders and therefore if you unseat him, you’ve really made it.

The fact that he’s aging and closing in on a return to Spain doesn’t help his cause, though. Players see that and see an opening in the future. After all, when compared to the other potential openings – Mesut Ozil, Francis Coquelin, Alexis Sanchez, Aaron Ramsey – it may be best to look at other options.

Next: Which FA Cup was better?

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