Monday, May 20, 2024

Basking like a basking basker from Baskersville

Morning all.

Still basking? If not, why not? It’s a Monday. Sure it’s grey and rainy (at least it is here) but the warm glow that accompanies a victory like that lasts a long time. Well, at least until midweek when we’ve got another game to contend with.

In the meantime though, there’s some enjoyable back-slappery going on in the wake of the spud pummelling and at the heart of all things good on Saturday was Santi Cazorla. The little Spaniard stepped up when we needed him. It’s fair to say he found some of his early season form again but he did it in a game that really mattered, and that’s also hugely encouraging.

He’s drawn praise this morning from Jack Wilshere, who said:

He was different class. His touch, his vision is a joke. He’s a dream to play with. He never gives the ball away and he’s creative, he’s busy around the pitch,  he’s a joy to play with.

It’s great to have him in the team. A lot of people Jamie Redknapp said they didn’t know about him before, but I’ve heard of him for a few years now. He’s a great player and when you’ve got someone like that in your team, who’s going to bring you in, you just want to get out there.

I don’t think we can underestimate how much good players enjoy playing with other good players. Guys they can trust 100%, give the ball to in tight areas and know they’ll find a way to make the next pass more often than not, and players who can produce and who see the game in its entirety. Nearly 50% of all Cazorla’s passes on Saturday came in the final third of the pitch, and I don’t think it’s coincidence that such a stat occurred in a game in which we’ve scored five goals.

Interestingly, Cazorla and Wilshere traded only 11 passes between them on Saturday (compared with 34 Cazorla and Arteta), which suggests Jack was doing a lot of work in midfield – most of which seemed to entail being fouled by Sandro every couple of minutes. But he did important work in there which allowed Arteta to dictate the game far more than he did against Fulham. Once again he was the hub of the team, completing 97 of 109 passes, so it was quite funny to hear him dismissed on Match of the Day as ‘quiet’. Yes, Cazorla caught the eye but he couldn’t have done it without his compatriot.

[As a small aside regarding Match of the Day, how toe-curling were Hansen and Redknapp, especially when placed either side of the annoyingly likeable Vincent Kompany? The fawning, jokey ‘banter’ was just appalling and the Man City captain looked kind of embarrassed to be there. That said, Kompany referred to Arsenal as the best team City have played this season, which is interesting, and his dismissal of Twitchy’s claim Sp*rs would finish above us was amusing].

Anyway, back to people who we don’t want to see shot into space with their limbs partially removed, and this time it’s Cazorla himself talking about what went down on Saturday and, in particular, his relationship with Jack Wilshere.

Jack has a quality that everyone knows about, and he is a crucial player for us. Every day, he gets better and playing with him gets easier every day, as he improves his level and finds his fitness again.

We have to be patient but he will keep on improving. I am starting to understand Jack a little bit more but that is the same with all of my team-mates. We are getting better with every game.

The part about ‘understanding’ is worth noting too. Not just from Cazorla’s point of view, but from Wilshere’s too. He’s come back into a team very different from the last one he played in. He’d never played a single minute with Arteta, obviously the new arrivals Podolski and Giroud too, and there is going to be a period of adaptation. Relationships on the pitch don’t often happen just like that, for the most part it takes time playing together and working on the training ground and over the next while, all going well, we’ll see how Jack develops as well those around him too.

I know that some will suggest the midfield trio of Arteta, Wilshere and Cazorla lacks something physically, and that’s fair comment, I guess. But from a technical point of view it looks very, very good indeed and the more they play together the better they’ll be. There is the worry that there’s too much of the burden on Arteta who isn’t in the first flush of youth to be fair to him, but I think when Wilshere is 100% comfortable in the team and physically back to his best he can take the load off a bit.

One final point from Saturday. While everyone is talking about Theo Walcott and his contract, with the manager saying he won’t be allowed leave in January whatever happens, I’m baffled again as to why there’s such a lack of focus on Bacary Sagna’s situation. I understand why the journalists want to ask about Theo, but Sagna’s consistency and solidity are a contributory factor to Walcott’s form, not to mention how important he is for this team.

Why are we not securing one of our best players with a new deal? Why are we in a situation where he’s got just 18 months left on his contract? If there were concerns about how he’d cope after two leg breaks in one season then surely they’ve been put to one side by now. I like Carl Jenkinson, I think he’s got a very bright future, but I really hope we sort things out with Sagna and he’s not the next player to make up the shortfall in income. Come on Arsenal, sign him up. Quickly.

Right then, that’s yer lot for this Monday. Please continue your basking. Till tomorrow.

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