After what as a huge anti-climax at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday following our defeat to West Ham United, the post-mortem is currently taking place throughout the footballing world.
Rather than pointing fingers as to who’s to blame or shout from the rooftops about a potential signing, Arsene Wenger faces a tough decision regarding two important members of our squad.
If the boss was honest with himself, the moment was bound to arrive.
Santi Cazorla was converted into an all-action central midfielder towards the second half of last season, more by luck than through design.
Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere’s injury problems meant that the Spaniard became our creative hub next to a revitalised Francis Coquelin.
The partnership worked well. Coquelin was tasked with winning the ball back and while Cazorla offered his fair share defensively, we made it a priority to hand him the ball at every conceivable opportunity.
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The benefits of this were obvious. Teams were reluctant to press us high up the pitch given Cazorla’s ability to wriggle out of danger and, subsequently, open up the pitch for a swift attack.
When Ramsey finally regained his fitness during the final few months of last season, Wenger clearly didn’t want to disrupt the cohesion within the side and the Welshman was forced to operate on the right wing.
We know it’s not his preferred role, mainly because Ramsey had sought to tell – anybody who would listen – exactly that. An unprofessional action – but that argument is for another day.
Meanwhile, Cazorla continued to dominate in the heart of our midfield and despite the fact that he turns 31 in December, our play almost became reliant upon him.
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And, after Wenger insisted that his future role remained at the heart of the team and not out wide, his positioning against West Ham was slightly baffling.
“He has become a master of central midfield,” Wenger said about Cazorla last season (via talkSPORT).
“You always have to be open-minded with players sometimes, he is 30 now, and it is a little bit more difficult on the flanks for him [but] showed he has other aspects of his game in the middle.”
If it’s difficult for him on the flanks at 30, why operate him there just months shy of his 31st birthday?
Wenger clearly sees Cazorla as an integral part of our squad, illustrated by his recent contract extension, so shunting him out wide was rather odd.
In the second half against West Ham, the boss briefly returned Cazorla to his best position and pushed Ramsey out to the left, a tactical move which resulted in us starting to dominate possession a bit more.
Few can deny that we look more fluid with the Spaniard keeping things ticking over and no matter how much Ramsey wants to moan, Wenger must do what’s right for the team.
Given that both look uncomfortable on each flank, which in turn hinders our football, there can be only one space for either one in our side.
Time to earn your money, Arsene!