Arsenal's crucial 2-0 win away to Swansea City, was keyed by Santi Cazorla's return to a role in the middle. The Spanish playmaker was easily Arsenal's best performer and tormented Swansea with his quick thinking and skill.
Cazorla has recently been moved to the left to accommodate Jack Wilshere's position as the most advanced member of Arsenal's midfield trio. Cazorla has had some good moments out wide, recently netting both goals in a 2-1 win over Aston Villa and scoring the winner at Sunderland.
However, Arsenal have lacked a creative thrust and real dynamism in the middle. That's because Wilshere has struggled to recreate what Cazorla did from central positions earlier in the campaign.
What Cazorla did was produce decisive action around the box. He posed a genuine scoring threat and also threaded clever through passes in between the lines, which is the vital requirement in manager Arsene Wenger's style of play.
With Wilshere injured, Wenger opted for veteran Tomas Rosicky as the focal point of his midfield triangle against Bayern Munich earlier in the week. Sadly, the Czech Republic schemer played anxious and often over hit several potentially dangerous passes.
Against Swansea, Wenger brought Abou Diaby into the side to occupy a deeper role alongside Mikel Arteta. He then moved Cazorla back to central attacking midfielder, giving him more freedom to roam the pitch.
The tactical switch worked wonderfully, thanks to Cazorla's speed of thought and natural trickery. He produced a pair of saves from Swans goalkeeper Michel Vorm, before playing a key role in Arsenal's opening goal.
That strike was converted by Cazorla's former Malaga teammate, left-back Nacho Monreal. However, it was created by Cazorla's sly skills. In trademark style, he glided past and around a pair of potential tackles and reversed an intelligent pass to Olivier Giroud.
Not for the first time this season, the clumsy striker's first touch was abysmal. However, Monreal darted onto the ball and dragged a shot across Vorm and in, via a slight deflection from rumored Arsenal target Ashley Williams.
The move by Cazorla was typical of his performance and showed his tremendous value to Arsenal and the team's fight for fourth spot. He is the one Gunner who can be relied upon to do something a little different this season.
His subtle movement and crafty passing can expose gaps in any defense. Yet it is Cazorla's flair running with the ball that is his most deadly attribute. Equally accomplished with both feet, he is able to outwit close marking and break through multiple defenders.
Cazorla's threat attracts defenders in numbers and that creates space for fellow Arsenal attackers to make clever forward runs off the ball. While his shooting prowess has already netted 11 goals, many of which have been match-winning contributions.
Wenger's brand of attractive, expansive football relies on a cerebral and cultured playmaker causing havoc in between the midfield and forward lines. From his free role in the middle, Cazorla is currently Arsenal's best option to do just that.
He could yet prove to be the catalyst for a return to the top four and sealing UEFA Champions League participation for next season.