Cazorla is not bringing enough to the deeper role – it’s time to build around Ramsey.
Another disappointing evening in Europe for Arsenal, which effectively makes our task near impossible with two heavyweight ties against Bayern pending.
What I wanted to discuss was the major flaws of Santi Cazorla and the very little he brings to the deeper role.
Last season Santi Cazorla received mighty praise for his contributions, which resulted in him winning Arsenal’s Player of the Year award. He supposedly formed a fantastic partnership with Francis Coquelin in midfield which Arsene acknowledged was due to Cazorla’s importance to our build up play.
‘Build-up play’ – this is a phrase I want to touch on.
Cazorla hasn’t really excelled in the deeper position at all, it truly is a myth. He has good domestic games and he aalways does well in adding to our attack, but it’s in Europe, and against the better teams, where he’s exposed for not necessarily doing his job.
His best performance last season was away to City; this is where we formed a 3-man midfield with Ramsey in there and Cazorla was the most advanced of the 3. In other big game performances as part of a 2 – I cannot recall him standing out.
Last night there was an instance where Gabriel was in possession and Cazorla pointed at him to make a long range pass over to the flank – this moment is vital to understand and tells you that Cazorla isn’t natural as a deep-lying controller.
You watch Veratti, Alonso, Busquets or even Carrick, they are demanding the ball off their centre-back and distributing it themselves, like they ought to. It’s not a slight on Cazorla he just doesn’t have the instincts for the position.
He doesn’t pass between the lines consistently; the way in which Santi helps build our play is by dribbling his way up the field – something he does well – but the space shuts off a lot quicker by the time he’s done. As said in commentary last night, nothing moves quicker than the ball – move it quickly and watch play progress a lot smoother.
Ever since Arteta stopped being a regular fixture in the team Ozil has had to come deeper than ever to collect the ball. In his first year he often received the ball in much more advanced positions thus allowing him to dictate in the final 3rd. Now he’s having to carry the ball from a longer distance the space is minimised by the time he’s further forward.
These kind of things aren’t easy to observe but are effecting our game massively and it’s no coincidence we haven’t played consistent attractive football for a while.
There’s little we can do now, the mistake was when Wenger refused to buy a defensive midfielder, of course Coquelin was worthy of being first choice based on last season’s contributions but the competition was very much required, we now see his 2 alternatives Flamini/Arteta both out injured and past it.
Aaron Ramsey’s form in 13-14 was truly elite and a year worthy of inspiring titles, the team was unintentionally built around him. He had a controlling player besides him in Arteta, Ozil ahead of him whom he’d run beyond and rely on the German to find him which he often did that year, he had Gibbs as an outlet at LB someone he has a good understanding with.
Theo Walcott deployed wide right – with whom he also has a bond: his long range passes to Theo Walcott have become a trait (see Old Trafford last year). He then had Giroud as a focal point, who could bring him into play in the final 3rd.
Too much has changed since then and it was the closest we had to a system, Wenger changed the formation, the personnel in these areas and unbalanced things completely.
The only suitable partner for Coquelin at present is Jack Wilshere as he can build properly, quicken our tempo, he’s learnt how to sit and dictate but he can’t be relied on to stay fit. Afterwards there’s no real solutions and I’ve previously been against a Ramsey-Coquelin pivot but we may as well try it now
The benefits is that it’s a very energetic pair, both are good defensively it’s our most physical partnership we could possibly use, which is important for the PL.
Our build up play would suffer but it’s not really there at the moment anyway, we should find other areas in which we can build – The Invincibles used the left hand side of Cole-Pires-Henry to build their game we’d need a solution of similar ilk.
I’m a fan of Cazorla, he’s a good lad, terrific player to watch but when you observe him carefully he’s bringing little to the team, he’s ultimately a luxury player and with Ozil at No. 10 we can’t really afford another player like that in such a vital position.
Santi Cazorla is good in the league because teams aren’t disciplined or well drilled, there’s plenty of space to be had but it’s the tougher games where he’s exposed for not playing his role as effectively as possible.