What a difference a good start can make. Seven games into last season the Gunners won twice, drew once and lost four games with a goal difference of -6. Beloved first-team member Samir Nasri left to join soon-to-be rivals Manchester City and captain Cesc Fàbregas was heading back to Barcelona. Things looked very bleak indeed.
So roll forward 12 months and once again Arsenal lose their captain. This time Robin Van Persie decided to move to Manchester United, causing heartbreak amongst fans. With the summer acquisitions of Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud however, the end result has been much different.
The most surprising incident of all is how 27-year-old Cazorla has managed to take the league by storm. Having been a peripheral figure in the Spanish international team due to the inevitable starting berths of Xavi and Iniesta, the former Malaga winger has come into the EPL full of optimism and confidence. His passing rate this season stands at 90.8%, the second-highest midfielder who has played all league matches behind Damien Duff and compatriot Mikel Arteta.
What’s more exciting is that Cazorla has two goals and two assists to his name and the second-highest key passes rate per game with 3.7. Last year, the Emirates side heavily relied on Robin Van Persie and stemmed their play through the flanks to get the ball as quickly as possible to their star man.
This year, with a more balanced approach, Arsène Wenger has allowed his midfield to control the game and dictate play. Arteta, Cazorla, Abou Diaby and Aaron Ramsey have thrived under this tactic and with defensive duties now a priority, goals are being shared around the team. With opposing clubs used to the one-man team that had graced the league in the past seasons, a more unorthodox method leaves an element of surprise. Before talismans Thierry Henry, Cesc Fàbregas and Van Persie were the centre of attention, but now focus has turned to a five-man attack.
Not all praises must go to the attacking style of play though, as a revamped back five has made Arsenal look meaner than ever in defence. Surprise package of the season has so far been the Gunners full-back Carl Jenkinson. The 20-year-old had a storming start to the season considering he was playing League One football just two years ago. His performances against Manchester City and Liverpool earned him well-deserved plaudits.
With a new-tough looking resistance as well as the immensely talented Santi Cazorla, could this be the season Arsenal finally end their trophy drought?842415