Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed in a recent interview that he expects midfield-playmaker Santi Cazorla to make his return for the Gunners after Christmas.
Cazorla picked up a serious Achilles injury last season against Ludogorets in the Champions League and despite having undergone eight operations since the blow, the Spaniard is yet to kick a ball in over a year.
Following such consistent problems with injuries, many had questioned if Cazorla’s career has ended but Wenger has denied such claims and has maintained that the Spaniard will return back into the Arsenal first team after he makes full recovery.
Wenger said of Cazorla, “He is having his first run today, so that’s quite positive. The flexibility of his ankle and his mobility looks good. It’s now about getting back to full fitness without having any setbacks.
“It’s very difficult not to set a time before Christmas, that’s why I didn’t involve him in the Europa League. But overall, after Christmas I hope he will be available. He has not played for over a year now, so you’re always cautious to set a time or date. But overall it looks positive.”
The 32-year-old has been a valuable player for Arsenal since his arrival to the club in 2012 and his importance to the team has increased after he was converted into a deep-lying playmaker from an attacking midfielder couple of seasons ago.
Cazorla proved his influence for Arsenal by playing a major role in making the Gunners tick before being sidelined by injury problems and it is clear to see that the North London side have sorely missed his presence at the middle of the park.
The Spanish maestro is known for his great close control and his ability to dribble past players. He is also able to pick up accurate passes from deep to build up attacking moves and his usage of both feet as well as an impressive range over set pieces have been crucial to Arsenal over the years.
Such variety of skill sets means that Cazorla has proven to be equally effective against the high pressing opponents and sides that sit deep. Since Cazorla’s injury, Arsenal have seen a drop in the quality of their football last season as they looked incapable to hold the ball in midfield and play penetrative passes into the attack.
The Spaniard’s replacements Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey have failed to replicate the ex-Malaga man’s poise on the ball along with his industry off it and therefore Wenger making an admission that he will return soon will serve as music to the ears of the Gunners’ faithful.