Arsene Wenger feels that Henrikh Mkhitaryan can fulfil Santi Cazorla’s role in the team, but hopes that the Spaniard will return from injury soon.

Cazorla has been out with injury since October 2016 and the team hasn’t been the same since.

His technical excellence and intelligence kept Arsenal’s midfield together. No other player in the squad was able to do what he did.

Now, though, we have Henrikh Mkhitaryan, a player Wenger hopes can have a similar influence on the team.

“There’s similarities yes,” Wenger said, as reported by the Evening Standard. “I wish [he could take over Santi’s role]. “

“Santi was an exceptional football player, technically to find Santi… 

“[Mkhitaryan] for sure has the technical level to play in our team.”

Mkhitaryan had an excellent debut, albeit from a more advanced position than Cazorla typically played.

He constantly found space and created three big chances for his teammates.

His presence in the team will improve the quality of our passing and movement.

ST ALBANS, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 02:  (L-R) Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Granit Xhaka of Arsenal during a training session at London Colney on February 2, 2018 in St Albans, England.  (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Henrikh Mkhitaryan;Granit Xhaka
(Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Much like Cazorla, Mkhitaryan seems to enjoy playing football and has a good time in training.

Wenger puts that down to his upbringing in Armenia.

“I met him before he came here, I always liked his game.

“He’s a player completely focused on football, dedicated totally to the game. 

“He comes from a country, Armenia, where you need special character to become a great football player. You have to really love it. That’s why he looks happy to play football, he loves it.”

At the same time, we’re all still hopeful that Cazorla can return to the side one day even though a prominent sports surgeon told us this was highly unlikely.

He was recently included in Arsenal’s Europa League squad, even though he has little chance of playing this season.

Wenger is still hopeful that he can come back.

“Has he played his last game for Arsenal? He has not played for over a year. I hope not. 

“He’s on the Uefa list. I don’t know how far he is since his last operation – I just put him there because we had room. 

“I hope and I want to give him strength to fight, to come back.”

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News and feature writer with a BA in Creative and Professional Writing from the University of East London. Long-time Arsenal fan also following Sevilla and local side Southend United. You can find me on Twitter @jeinchy29 talking about Arsenal and the issues affecting the English game,