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April 2021

The season’s impression: Midfielders everywhere, the little one

By Walter Broeckx

The first 6 positions I talked about were rather simple in terms of personnel.  Keeper, right back, 2 central defenders, left back; even a defensive orientated midfielder. The only other position that is easy to talk about apart from that is that of the central striker.  So we have a few other positions in between that are not that easy to put a name on to it.

With Theo fit we might talk about a right wing attacker. But as Theo was out for half the season it is difficult to just take the position at itself. As Theo was out others covered that part of the field but not in the same way as Theo does when fit.

So if you forgive me I will now start giving my impression of the midfielders, not in a particular place on the field point of view but I will touch on where they play a big part when they play but will mention where they can be found most of the time.

But as we know or should know we use a fluent midfield with lots of interchanging and it is not that when I say e.g. Cazorla mostly plays on the left hand side that he is a pure left wing attacker or left side midfielder.

And as we mentioned his name let us start with Cazorla.

When we look at his numbers we see that he had a smaller impact than he had in his first season. But there seems to be a good reason for this. Our dear friends from Fufa are responsible for a big part. It is their idiotic confederations cup one year before the world cup that caused Cazorla (and Monreal if I’m not mistaken) to come home tired and with less rest than they should have had.

As a result Cazorla missed a few matches with injuries. And then struggled for real match fitness. And then got another little niggle, and some more struggling for match fitness again.  So Cazorla only had 30 league starts this season. Compared to 37 the season before.  One of the lowest numbers in his career. And because he had a few injury problems. Probably caused by fatigue.  The other time he had such low number was also in Spain when he had some injury problems. So not really Santi normal stuff.

In his first season he scored 12 goals and in this one he only scored 7 goals.  But a few of those goals were very important.  Goals against Liverpool at home, the brace against Fulham to win our home match. And of course our first goal in the FA cup final. If ever there was a moment to step up it was that moment.

But apart from his injury problems at the start we can also point at the fact that he played in a more different way than the season before. In that first season he was the turning point high up field. Playing left, right, centre making things happen in attack. But with the arrival of Özil this has changed somewhat. I wonder if Cazorla was somehow forced to stick more to a position and so getting less chances for himself to shine.

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In a way he stepped a bit out of the spotlight in order to allow another player to step forward and did more the unnoticed hard work. We also must keep in mind that Santi is getting a bit older. He is 29 years old now and for a player that runs a lot with the ball it will become more difficult to keep it up.  And with him being at the world cup again this summer I somehow fear a bit for his fitness in the early stages of next season.  Unless he would be put on the bench more than he would like it (I wouldn’t mind him being on the bench for most Spanish matches to be honest, sorry Santi).

What we have seen in the last 2 seasons however is that Santi is a real warrior. Not the mind blowing flying tackling warrior. No the player that will run, run and run some more to help the team. A fully fit Santi Cazorla will give us some 10 goals a season I think and a few assists as well. So I hope for a fit season from him.

Him being two footed is one of the most amazing things in football. Or better said him being so natural and good at it is one of the most amazing things in football..  It just doesn’t seem to matter to him with what foot he kicks the ball. A cross field ball is played with as much ease with his left foot as with his right foot. A free kick or corner is taken with his left foot or right foot and it doesn’t matter at all. Even after two seasons having had the luck to admire this little Spaniard I still am puzzled by this.

In general not the best season from Cazorla (injuries) and the fear is there he might suffer at the start of next season again, but the hope is very much there that once he will feel completely fit we will see the best Santi to shine for us next season. And maybe having a good pre-season (oh damned WC….) would have helped him (and Özil) to understand each other even better.

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9 comments to The season’s impression: Midfielders everywhere, the little one

  • bjtgooner

    The hope for next season would be that our midfield suffer fewer injuries and therefore planned rotation would be possible. An additional DM or Diaby staying fit would be more than helpful.

    As Walter rightly points out Cazorla will need a rest after the World Cup and will probably miss our pre season and first few matches. But after that it would be wonderful to see Cazorla, Ozil, Ramsey, Walcott, Arteta all operating as a mid/attacking midfield – with Ox, Podolski, Diaby, Flamini & Rosicky for rotation – not a bad squad – and that is before we purchase or review some of the younger players.

    My view of Cazorla – an exceptional player who may well contribute a lot more next season – especially when the midfield become more used to playing together.

  • nicky

    As a fairly simple soul, I can never quite understand why injuries in professional football (a) seem to occur so easily and (b) take so long from which to recover.
    Most of us have played football after leaving school, generally in the amateur or pub scene and we have all experienced the odd injury causing our absence for a few games.
    The professional scene though, is puzzling. The players are ultra fit and highly tuned, yet the injuries seem to occur out of little or nothing, affecting quite peculiar parts of the body and the recovery period can be most of a season.
    Arsenal FC are notorious for above average long term injuries and I believe an in-depth survey is being carried out into the reasons for this.
    The fact remains though, that the fittest of men, playing a mainly non-contact sport, appear to be subject to frequent and often simple injury in the workplace, difficult to prevent and time consuming to treat.

  • Pat


    ‘Mainly non-contact sport’ being the operative words. When Arsenal is on the pitch, it ceases to be that, and becomes a ‘kick them whenever you can’ sport, with the collusion of the referees.

    About Santi Cazorla – I have in my mind the shot of his face before he took that wonderful free kick that was so important because it gave us our first goal in the FA Cup Final. Thank you, Santi!

  • nicky

    Point taken but I was just trying to differentiate between rugby and soccer, where the former sport seems less likely to record (say) the type of groin injury footballers are always receiving.

  • Gord


    How long it takes to recover from an injury, is a function of how much stress the body is under.

    For example, the common cold is supposed to have an average duration of about 6 days. I think if you gathered statistics properly, you would see that times of high stress (income tax season) would have longer durations.

    Over usage injuries are a manifestation of this. The athletes are running the line about how much stress they can handle, and maybe one day they do one more sprint than they usually do, and they get injured. I always liked people to keep a diary of their resting heart rate. Wake up in the morning, and after waiting a minute or two for the startling by the alarm to subside, and then measure your resting heart rate (still lying down). If one day, your resting heart rate is more than 10% above the long term baseline, enough additional stress has built up that a person needs to get an extra day of rest in (soon).

    There are also malicious reasons for injuries to take longer. Near the base of our thumb, is a little bone called the scaphoid (sp?). If you break that bone, your hand is typically cast in a pose reminiscent of holding a can or bottle. That bone does not get good blood circulation, and often doesn’t heal well. I would imagine there is a similar bone in your foot, but I never went looking for it. But, if that bone also has bad healing properties, some players might look to stomp on a rival player’s foot in such a way as to break that bone.

    Some injuries reportedly heal better when the player is in enhanced oxygen, while other injuries seem to heal better in reduced oxygen. Some injuries seem to need certain amplitudes and/or frequencies of vibration to heal best.

  • nicky

    So day to day stress plays a part and no-one can deny that the professional footballer plays under a lot of stress.

  • Gord

    I am glad you found what you were looking for nicky. I just hope you didn’t do the Greek thing, and run around the streets naked shouting EUREKA!


  • para

    I think sometimes the injuries do not get the full amount of time needed to really heal. Players are brought back too early, which is understandable sometimes, but I notice Arsenal tends to give them a little longer, especially from last season.

    I think that football should be made absolutely non-contact, and contact should be more punished, this would surely increase the skill level in time. Shoulder barging, hip barging and hands around another player should all go. How many times we see shoulder barging, and catches the player off balance, and he falls awkwardly, which could result in injuries. All these contacts add up over a season, and that area becomes sensitive too. The two footed challenge should be absolute, that is, straight red, whether contact is made or not, we would soon see less of it. Late contact after the ball is gone also should be absolute, a yellow.

    There should be no warnings during the game, players play to that, and hope to do some damage before getting a yellow, so as soon as the game starts, all players should be aware that ANY infringement will be punished immediately, which means the refs have to be drilled about the changes. Refs should have an official “league table” to monitor them with bonuses paid for the top 3 or 4, and they should get to ref the European games(just like the teams do to qualify) while the others lose out, which can only serve to make them better too.

    Football would quickly change for the better. Of course these rules would have to be global.