Santi Cazorla continues to be vital to Arsenal's ability to play the kind of expansive, attractive football favoured by Arsene Wenger. The Spain international has quickly settled in as the creative hub at the most important position in Arsenal's hybrid 4-3-3 structure.
As the most advanced member of Arsenal's central midfield trio, Cazorla is the player counted on to provide a natural link between the midfield and forward lines. He is relied upon to add flair and creativity to the Gunners' neat and intricate possession passing.
That's a tall order, but the diminutive midfield maestro continues to play big. In Arsenal's 3-1 UEFA Champions League victory over Olympiacos, Cazorla provided the decisive moments of quality on more than one occasion. It was his clever reverse pass which set Lukas Podolski free, enabling the German forward to drag the ball across, for Gervinho to eventually finish.
Cazorla was also key to Arsenal's second strike, which broke a tense and frustrating 1-1 deadlock. He engineered a smart exchange of passes with Gervinho, releasing the pacey Ivorian with a probing ball on the left. From there Gervinho eventually worked the ball to Podolski who pounced to put Arsenal in front.
Cazorla's contributions against the Greek champions summed up the prolific start to his Arsenal career and perfectly illustrated his significance to the team. While he may be quiet for long periods of a match, when Cazorla does make a contribution, it is usually a telling one.
That's what separates him from Arsenal's other midfielders and makes him the most important member of the team. Take him out of the game against Olympiacos and you take away two goals.
Consider also his impact in Arsenal's 2-0 away win over Liverpool. For all of Arsenal's tidy passing and positional discipline at Anfield, it was Cazorla who broke open a tight affair and swung the game permanently in Arsenal's favour. Without his excellent through pass, Lukas Podolski would not have opened the scoring.
Even though he went off the boil in the second half, Cazorla still managed to spring to life to play a sharp one-two with Podolski and net Arsenal's decisive second goal himself. Without Cazorla providng the flourish to Arsenal's play they would look lost and laboured. Their passing would simply move from side to side, lacking the direction and impetus given to it by the ex-Malaga star.
In the Gunners' 2-1 win away at Montpellier, it was Cazorla who shifted the pace of Arsenal's game into high gear. He played a quick exchange with Abou Diaby, before firing the ball into Olivier Giroud who positioned Podolski to eqalise against the French side.
Cazorla's speed of thought and equally quick transition from ideas to action has finally given Arsenal a replacement for Cesc Fabregas. The current system and style simply cannot function without this type of player.
As the inventive fulcrum of the team, Arsenal are hugely reliant on Cazorla, perhaps dangerously so. Opposing teams will all soon have the same plan for him and that will be man-marking without the ball and crowding when in possession.
Cazorla was able to escape that kind of attention against Olympiacos, thanks to tricky footwork and deceptive strength, attributable no doubt to his low centre of gravity. Yet subtle off-the-ball movement will be key for Cazorla this season and it's something Wenger must emphasise to the Spanish ace in training.
That's because Arsenal need their precocious schemer to make the decisive impact in every game.