Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla continued to show the surprising grit that he’s added to his game in the 3-0 win over Watford on Saturday.

The midfielder has always been determined but, slightly held back by his small stature, hasn’t always been able to impact on games physically. However, he’s continued to impress in a deep midfield role.

Prior to his weekend, he had won possession of the ball in the defensive third more times (44) than any other Premier League player so far this season. On Saturday afternoon, Watford imposed themselves on the game but the Spaniard managed to win more tackles than midfield partner Francis Coquelin.

“They played the long ball and they have very good and strong players in front of them, but we came together and it is very important for us to beat these teams and we are very proud of the team,” Cazorla said after the yet another impressive performance.

It speaks volumes of his defensive and physical abilities that he’s able to play – and play well – against a team focused on playing long passes with strong players like Troy Deeney and Etienne Capoue.

“We played against Manchester United last time and it is a different game,” the Spaniard explained. “They have very good players but today it was physical and with the team it is the most important thing to play well. We need to keep this level for the future.”

Against Bayern Munich on Tuesday, the 31-year-old will face the likes of Arturo Vidal, a physically dominating midfielder with all the talent in the world. It’s another tough test but, so far, Cazorla has passed the challenges he’s faced.

Ultimately, he’s proven that he is more than capable of playing in a role far more physically demanding than his previous positions.

 

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