Beyond the fact that Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud scored in this match, this was a perfect rebound for Arsenal and more than that, further proof of just how in control Santi Cazorla is, and just how important he is to the Gunners, proving it once again in the 3-1 win over West Ham.
Coming back from behind, on the road, against a tough team (Sam Allardyce) in a tough ground shouldn’t be taken for granted. Not when it’s Arsenal, who constantly crumble when the going gets tough, and Arsene Wenger closes into himself and starts blaming everything and everyone but his method and vision. This time, despite the previous loss to Chelsea at home, they just kept pushing despite the early hammers goal.
The defense looks much more stable with Mertesacker next to Thomas Vermaelen and not Laurent Koscielny at his side. Aaron Ramsey is back to full form and is playing like it. Confident with the ball, clever with his passing and even better with his movement. West Ham didn’t have much to add to the match after the fantastic Mohamed Diame goal. The Arsenal midfield was so effective with its choke hold on the match and constant danger (21 shots at goal), because of the presence of Santi Cazorla.
Cazorla is more than a great passer like many play makers who have been through Arsenal and other teams. His constant motion to the sides and deep creates so much more space for Arteta to move in from behind, while Gervinho and Podolski come in from the wings. That is what created the first goal for Olivier Giroud, finally putting one huge monkey off his shoulder, at least for a short while. The Santi Cazorla goal, the one that made it 3-1, was simply him showing another side of skills – long range shooting.
But it’s more about the attitude. Maybe it’s Wenger finally getting through to his players, or maybe it’s just finally making the right choices in players. Direct players, no nonsense players. Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla. They might not be the best in their position when it comes to the rest of the world, but they add a certain ingredient to them that’s been missing for all these years.
Still, there might not be enough quality to make this a title run till the end. Not enough players upfront to be relied upon to deliver consistently when it comes to goals. Gervinho is lucky to be leading the team’s scorers up till now, while Podolski is not Robin van Persie, and no real striker. There’s always the hope that Theo Walcott will finally become what everyone has been expecting him to since he was 16. Chances are against that happening.
Santi Cazorla is a different player. He isn’t filling a role of someone that left and couldn’t be replaced. Cesc Fabregas was always the dynamo and heart of the previous Arsenal sides, but he never won anything. The same goes for Van Persie. A change in strategy, even if you think you know better than anyone, is usually a good thing. It feels like Arsenal, following Santi Cazorla, has finally found the right direction.