Wednesday, March 22, 2023

The Absence Of This Creative Genius In Arsenal’s Midfield Leaves A Lot To Be Desired

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Prasoon Sur
Prasoon is a law student who lives in the North East of India. Wildly innovative, football is more than a passion for him.

Arsenal have fallen off the cliff in the league and if one saw their Emirates FA Cup outing against Preston North End in the third round, he or she couldn’t help but wonder as to how they look so shambolic after showing so much of promise early in the season. Olivier Giroud, despite being subject to so much of inordinate disaffection from the Arsenal faithful, has been saving the side from collapsing by netting goals in the vicinity of the dying minutes of the game.

Giroud might have earned the tag of ‘a rescuer’, as he once against saved the blushes by scoring a last minute winner at Deepdale to secure a 1-2 win away from home in the oldest cup competition in England but the Gunners simply cannot rely on the bearded striker so much. While the likes of Mesut Özil and Alexis Sánchez might draw most of the glamour, the North Londoners are unarguably lacking their midfield brain which makes them click.

When Granit Xhaka was brought in, it was believed that Santi Cazorla’s days at the Emirates Stadium were being numbered. Instead, the little man continued to be the big man in terms of his prolific form which made Arsène Wenger’s men more dependent on him. The Spaniard pulled the strings, controlling the tempo of the game and dictating Arsenal’s play from the deep-lying position. An injury in the October was the onslaught of Cazorla’s trouble with Achilles and his return is yet to be pencilled, though it is believed that he would be out until February.

It is agonizingly frustrating to see Arsenal amidst injury concerns yet again, particularly that of Cazorla which has severely dented their title credentials. Unarguably, he is a unique player and is almost impossible to replace. He cultivates the element of completeness in the midfield comprising of a plethora of stars by bringing a calm influence in the game, finding the right players with his passes and never being short of ideas when in possession.

Another thing that is so good about the little magician is that he never passes just for the sake of passing the ball around. He brings the drive and urgency which allows Wenger’s attackers to demolish their opponents. He barely loses the ball and can discharge a long pass with the same accuracy which he does in terms of a short pass. Frankly speaking, he is a visionary and his excellent thinking and technically sound abilities aids him in marshalling his troops from the deeper position.

In merely 8 appearances in the Premier League, he bagged a couple of goals and the same number of assists despite being employed in a deep-lying midfield slot. Further, he accomplished a stupendous pass accuracy of 91%, clocked an average pass length of 16 metres and created 10 chances as well and these statistics do reflect a bit of what he brings to his side. The thirteen-time league winners have been lacking creativity, technicality in the middle of the park and an impetus to unlock stubborn defences and for pushing the side up the pitch is also lacking by his absence.

The 32-year-old hasn’t been appreciated by the Arsenal fans as much as he should have and his absence is taking a toll on them indeed. Ever since Cazorla’s injury, Arsenal’s last six wins in the league have come against mediocre sides and in their four outings against quality sides, namely, Manchester City, Tottenham, Manchester United and Everton, they could accumulate merely a couple of points. The red half of North London look like a ship without a navigator at the moment.

Aren’t Arsenal an inferior version of themselves without Santi Cazorla?

Statistics Credits: Squawka.

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