After recording 12 goals and 11 assists in 38 Premier League appearances for Arsenal in his first season in north London, Santi Cazorla looked destined for a long and excellent career with the Gunners.
However, in the summer of 2013, while all about him celebrated the arrival of Mesut Ozil, doubts might have first started to creep into the Spanish midfielder’s head about his role at the Emirates.
Sure enough, the German playmaker’s introduction saw Cazorla’s importance reduced in terms of both playing time and his position in the side, with the former Malaga man often shunted out wide.
Things looked bleak at the start of this term as well, but once the under-performing Ozil picked up an injury, Cazorla was reintroduced into the heart of Arsenal’s side, with great effect.
The last league match the 30-year-old did not play all 90 minutes in was the 2-1 loss to Manchester United, and the Gunners have won five of their seven since with the Spaniard everpresent.
In contrast, they’ve only managed to pick up one victory all season in seven attempts when Cazorla has not started, and that was against an awful Galatasaray side.
Since the Manchester United game, the midfielder has racked up four goals and four assists in eight appearances.
Only Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud have scored more league goals for the Gunners, with the irrepressible Chilean also the only man to have recorded more assists.
Cazorla is creating chances at a rate of 2.4 per game, the joint-ninth best tally in the league, and slightly better than Ozil’s tally of 2.3 before his injury.
With goals, assists and chances flowing freely off the Spaniard’s boots, Arsenal have been able to push themselves back level on points with fourth-place Southampton.
The Gunners can overtake the Saints with victory at St Mary’s in their next outing, a task they are 6/4 to achieve, and Cazorla will undoubtedly be central to their efforts on the south coast.