Results don’t go our way and everyone trying to pinpoint which errors and players cost us points. Is it Sagna’s back pass, Giroud’s misses’ blah blah blah!!
Not sure about you guys but I am getting highly frustrated by Santi Cazorla and by default with Arsene Wenger. Why with Wenger? Because it is his fault that I am frustrated with Santi. Yes we all love our diminutive playmaker and he has been a success in his first season, but not for this observer at least the success he should have been. A bold statement about a player who has scored I think 15 goals and provided about 10 assists in an Arsenal shirt in his first campaign. 12 and 7 in the Premier League alone is impressive indeed, but it could perhaps have been so much more? My answer would be an emphatic YES.
Arsenal have scored more than twice in a league match on only 2 occasions since the end of January and that was against Reading and Norwich. So what changed at the end of January? Let me tell you, as it is truly winding me up more and more each week. Wenger moved Santi from the attacking midfield role to the flank, where in my view he flatters to deceive, makes far less contribution and most annoyingly, never stays in the position anyway. Now this activity as he floats around may look great, but when the attacking is down the right our left winger should become our second striker. Podolski does this naturally as does Theo or Gervinho but Cazorla never comes in. He stays on the edge of the box waiting for the ball to come our when he should be supporting the central striker. Interestingly when playing behind the centrally striker he does support, effectively playing a superb No.10 role, witness the Reading hatrick.
In fact in one of the two games we scored more than one, the second and third v Nowrich only came when Podolski came on. He linked up with Giroud and Santi reverted to CAM and heh presto 2 goals in a few minutes. Coincidence? Err No. Simple fact is that since Santi has been moved out to the left he has contributed the grand total one 1 assist in 12 EPL matches and that was against Reading. Given that he should be our main playmaker this is a crazy situation, particularly when you consider he contributed 6 assists from the head of our midfield centrally prior to the end of January.
This is even odder when we consider that Lukas Podolski has contributed 9 assists from the left wing in 28 outings from that position. Norwich was not the only game either in which our fortunes changes when Podolski came on to the left striker role and Santi reverted to CAM. If I recall correctly both Stoke and Aston Villa at home the winners were scored when Podolski entered the fray and Santi moved central. 2 games before Podolski was effectively dropped from his left attacking role he produced one of the most impressive individual performances from an Arsenal player this season with 3 assist and one goal v West Ham.
I may believe that Podolski’s best role is centrally in a pair, although we seem unlikely to see this, but he is certainly a more natural left striker in our system than Cazorla in my view. The change may have been prompted by Podolski’s apparent carrying of an injury but I fear it is more to accommodate either Wilshere and Cazorla or Rosicky and Cazorla in the same starting eleven. This dilemma in turn perhaps brought on by the magnificent form of Ramsey alongside Arteta.
It is a juggling act but to make this simple in the 12 games Santi has started in the league on the left wing he has scored 3 and assisted once. In the previous 12 which Podolski started there he scored 5 and assisted 5. Of course things are complicated by the suspension to Giroud which has seen Podolski play centrally. He is clearly not 100% fit and has had some criticism but for me part of the issue if that the left striker/winger Cazorla is rarely close to him and is roaming wherever he sees fit. This makes is ineffective down the left compared to how it was in the early part of the season with Cazorla, Podolski and Giroud working well together.
The reality is that Ramsey has played his way into the starting 11 whilst Wilshere was out injured and it would appear that Wenger sees Jack as our long term CAM. I suspect most of the fans myself don’t see it that way. Right now it is a fight out between Rosicky and Wilshere it would seem in the manager’s mind with Santi staying out left. However much as I like both players enormously I see Jack as a box to box player not a creator like Cazorla or TR7. Long term it is Jack or Rambo in the middle but right now I would just like to see Santi back at CAM. He is our most creative influence and this influence seems to be diminished when he plays wide left. The player himself gets frustrated out there and is continually drifting in field to get involved and damaging our shape.
Tough decisions for the last 2 fixtures but the reality is that most of our best performances have come with Santi at CAM and Podolski at left wing, Add into the melting pot the fact that the German is not excelling as the sole striker. If Lukas is fit enough I would stick him back out left and have Gervinho or Theo centrally. This will be hard on Rosicky and Wilshere but the bottom line is that we have lost our creative spark and I feel a fluid front 3 of Gervinho, Theo and Podolski with the Spaniard back pulling the strings will prove productive against a tired post Cup Final Wigan. If Podolski is indeed not fit then I would give the Ox a run out.
Just in case I have not convinced you that Santi Cazorla should be playing the central attacking midfield role v Wigan and Newcastle and not the left wing role I have one further argument. Much as I like Rosicky and I feel Wishere is the future the stark fact is that since Santi has been on the left Jack and Tomas have shared a grand total of one assist between them. Quite frankly, since this position along with the 2 wide men is the creative hub that is not good enough.
So to conclude whilst we may have been winning of late we have not been doing so comfortably or in style. Now this is wonderful but it is the improvement of the defensive organisation in the past few months that has seen to this, NOT any improvement in our attacking creativity of threat. Santi Cazorla having created goal scoring opportunities from August to January has all but ceased to do so from the left. In addition he does not fulfil the crucial role of becoming the second central striker when we attack from the right, as Walcott would do when the ball is arriving from the left. Lastly he never beats his fullback man and whips in a low cross as Theo would do and as Podolski did so often in the early part of the campaign. A left winger who always guts inside makes our attacks wholly predictable.
So Monsieur Wenger please stop ignoring the facts to accommodate favourites, however good they may be. Jack and Mozart can play their roles off the bench but the best midfield 3 to take us into the Champions League next season is Arteta, Ramsey and Santi Cazorla, who is wasted and wasteful on the wing.
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