You may have noticed that it is now twenty years since Arsène Wenger took the hot seat at Arsenal.
Here, at DCHQ, we thought it was time to have a look at his top five captures since his arrival in north London.
Let’s start with #5
Santi Cazorla, 2012-
Okay, so this is something of a sentimental pick, but I think that’s okay, and even if it isn’t, I don’t care. This is my list after all. Santi signed for Arsenal in 2012 as an end to the austerity years, for Arsenal at least, shimmered like a mirage in the distance. Arriving in the same summer as Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud, Santi has played a key role in the transition of Arsenal from a top four team who never won anything to a top three side with a couple of FA Cups on the sideboard.
Importantly, off the pitch, I think the capture of Cazorla marked the end of Arsenal having to take a chance on the Gervinhos of this world and being able to step up a level; Mesut Özil and Alexis following Santi from La Liga in successive summers.
On the pitch, Santi took home the Arsenal.com player of the season award at the end of his first, stellar, season. Whilst the season that followed was derailed by injury, Santi would still step up to score the decisive penalty in the FA Cup semi final shoot out with Wigan and then, and then… well, then there was this.
Has a more important goal been scored in Arsenal’s recent history? I’ve said it before during the course of this piece, he almost gets in just for this one.
More than that, though, it’s the way Santi plays the game. It’s the smile on his face. It’s the first touch, the feints, the shimmies. It’s the way he seems to be written off, even now, by people who should know better. It’s the improbable beauty and the beast partnership with Francis Coquelin which navigated Arsenal safely through the 2015 run in. It’s that performance against Manchester City and the way he has reinvented himself as THE deep lying playmaker. It’s those combinations with Mesut Özil. It’s the penalties down the middle hit with the certain logic that no goalkeeper worth his salt is going to stand and watch a penalty rattled into the corner.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s Santi Cazorla!
Who knows, he might even remember how to hit a ball like this one day.
Feel free to hit me up on Twitter and tell me if you agree.