After netting four goals in his last five Premier League outings, Arsenal’s little magician Santi Cazorla is finally returning to his best for the Gunners.
The Spaniard failed to score in his first 13 Premier League games this term before finally breaking his goalscoring duck with a consolation penalty against Stoke City in early-December – which ended in a 3-2 defeat. Since then, the ex-Malaga man scored twice in the 4-1 win over Newcastle United, before adding another penalty in Sunday’s 2-1 win over West Ham United.
Three of Cazorla’s four Premier League goals may well have been penalties, but his level of performance has certainly upped, just when Arsenal were in desperate need of him doing so – the 30-year-old’s rich run of scoring form has coincided with Arsenal’s improved results. Since the Gunners’ horror show at the Britannia Stadium earlier this month, Arsene Wenger’s side have accumulated ten points from a possible 12.
Arsenal now occupy fifth place in the Premier League table – level on points with fourth placed Southampton. Over the years, Wenger has had the knack of picking up vital results just when he is starting to come under increasing pressure. Since the 3-2 defeat at Stoke, the Gunners have been in scintillating form – Wenger’s side followed up their impressive 4-1 away win against Galatasaray in the Champions League, with Premier League wins over Newcastle United, Queens Park Rangers and most recently West Ham. The only points the Gunners have dropped recently were in the 2-2 away draw with Liverpool – a game they would have been bitterly disappointed not to have won.
Cazorla arrived at the Emirates Stadium from Malaga in August 2012, signing a long-term deal for a reported fee of £15m. The midfielder had a very impressive first two years at the Emirates, but he somewhat struggled to replicate that at the start of this campaign. Cazorla hit 12 goals in his first season in north London – which included grabbing a hat-trick in a 5-2 win at Reading. The following season, the Spaniard only netted seven times, but played a pivotal part in Arsenal’s top-four push and FA Cup win. But despite a disappointing start this term, the playmaker is starting to burst back into life for the Gunners, and the 30-year-old is flourishing once again in the heart of the Arsenal team.
The Gunners’ main aim this season is to once again secure Champions League football. The title may well be out of their grasp yet again, but they are still in the Champions League, and have the small matter of attempting to retain their FA Cup. The Gunners start their defence, ironically, against the team they beat in last season’s final – as Arsenal host Steve Bruce’s Hull City in the third round tie on Sunday.
It’s imperative for the Gunners that they keep this momentum going. It’s undoubtedly been another topsy-turvy year at the Emirates, which is becoming a common theme in north London these days, but if the Gunners can keep their big guns firing, then there’s no reason that come May, it can’t be another very successful one.