Is Dani Ceballos the midfielder Arsenal have been missing since Santi Cazorla set foot on the Emirates turf?
It’s a hard question to answer, especially so soon into the new Premier League campaign.
Ceballos has had an impressive start to his temporary stay in north London, turning in a display Cazorla arguably would have been proud of against Burnley.
He claimed two assists, had three shots, managed four dribbles and also achieved a pass success of 90% per WhoScored.
It was a magnificent display and typified what his Spanish predecessor brought to N5.
Now 34, he is plying his trade at Villarreal after a horrible foot injury which nearly caused him to lose a limb.
A skin graft was taken from his arm and thankfully he’s now back fit and he’s even been in the Spain squad.
Long gone are his days at Arsenal, however, and there is now a new kid on the block.
After that game against Burnley, the comparisons between Ceballos and Cazorla were out in full force.
— KENNA (@MAZI_KENNA) August 22, 2019
Makes me remember about Santi Cazorla ❤️
— CYMOH ™?? ❁ (@ProfCymOhAFC) August 22, 2019
Dani really reminded me of prime Santi. Awesome performance.
I hope Modric steps up for Real Madrid this season.
— Arsenal, who on earth else?? (@Goonereaststand) August 18, 2019
The similarities between the two are clear to see but what does this hold for another of Arsenal’s creative outlets, Mesut Ozil?
It might be that playing in a number ten position, the 23-year-old can allow Ozil his off days and ensure there isn’t a lack of creativity when he’s absent.
But can they play together? Assessing the German’s record when playing alongside Cazorla would be a good place to start.
Unai Emery has preferred a more defensive nature behind the forward line in his midfield since arriving at Arsenal and the fact Matteo Guendouzi, Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka all started a home match against Huddersfield last term sums that up.
But to give the Gunners a more dynamic approach in their new-look side, Emery could field Ozil at 10 and Ceballos as a deep-lying playmaker.
The former Germany international’s record alongside Cazorla is quite something and the fact they picked up 2.11 points per match is mightily impressive.
For those that have played alongside Ozil at Arsenal on more than ten occasions, only four individuals, Rob Holding, Lukas Podolski, Bacary Sagna and Mohamed Elneny have a better point per game ratio, although none have come close to matching the same number of games.
In 89 matches together, Ozil and Cazorla lost just 17 times as 175 goals were scored, per Transfermarkt.
The same source states that they only combined three times together for a goal but with the two in the team, Ozil scored 20 goals and claimed 30 assists.
Cazorla, on the other hand, racked up 11 strikes and laid on 19 goals for his teammates.
Those numbers make for impressive reading and how well the team did with a player like the Spaniard behind Ozil could be a sign of things to come.
Of course, it’s difficult to suggest Ceballos will have the same impact but judging by the way the two compare, there are reasons to suggest Arsenal could thrive with him and Ozil in the same side.
Cazorla’s final game for Arsene Wenger’s side was against Ludogorets. Rather typically, he and the World Cup winner were in fine form.
Ozil scored a hat-trick and got an assist in a 6-0 win whilst the former also set a goal up.
This was at a time when the ex-Real Madrid man was at the top of his game, however.
Now, he’s a peripheral figure in Emery’s side, initially being left out of the team at the start of the new season because of security reasons.
If he can get back to his best, then it will be fascinating to see whether he’s picked alongside Ceballos.
So far he’s played directly behind the strikers but if the Cazorla comparisons stick, selecting him in a deeper role could be of great benefit to Arsenal.
The highest number of assists from a single Gunners player in 2018/19 was just eight.
On that evidence, more creativity is needed. Ozil and Ceballos could well be the ones to provide that.