By Editor Wayne Veysey
Santi Cazorla shapes his team’s playing style, Mesut Ozil is emerging as a bona fide Premier League star and other things we learned from Arsenal 2 Everton 1.
Cazorla is the brain of this Arsenal team
Short of stature he may be, but Santi Cazorla exerts a huge influence on this Arsenal side. It is not so much his geometrically-precise passing that stands out in the deep-lying playmaker role he has taken to with such success in 2015, but his total understanding of where to be to negate the opposition and then begin his team’s attacks. The Spanish maestro’s game intelligence is proving to be more significant than his lack of physicality in a position that has always placed a premium on athleticism and defensive nous. Cazorla was excellent once again today and added to his assist-count by landing a virtually undefendable free-kick on to the head of Laurent Koscielny for Arsenal’s second. He is the brain of Arsene Wenger’s improving team.
Wenger has some selection headaches
Theo Walcott or Olivier Giroud? Per Mertesacker or Gabriel? Wenger is facing a few selection dilemmas as Arsenal’s Premier League challenge begins to take shape. The manager’s mind was virtually made up for him as he made three changes from the team that beat Bayern Munich, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replacing the injured Aaron Ramsey, Gabriel coming in for the ill Mertesacker and Giroud taking over from Walcott, who was effectively rested, as Wenger explained: “We have to be cautious with Walcott. He has a little bit of a recovery problem. We did not want to risk it.” The recalled trio all impressed against Everton. Giroud led the line superbly and headed in his fourth goal in five matches, Oxlade-Chamberlain provided thrust on the right flank and Gabriel showed again why he is pushing Mertesacker so closely for the second centre-back spot. Wenger will need a strong squad to keep his players fit and fresh but some tough decisions lie ahead.
Ozil is in the form of his Gunners career
The German playmaker has not always lorded over Premier League opponents during his three seasons in England. But Ozil is emerging as the king creator in the most sustained run of form of his Arsenal career. After scoring the club’s second goal in their midweek 2-0 win over Bayern Munich, he got Wenger’s team up and running against a lively Everton by producing a millimetre-perfect cross from the right flank after 36 minutes to set up Olivier Giroud for the opening goal. It was Ozil’s seventh Premier League assist of the season, more than any other player. He pulled the strings against Everton today, and is emerging as bona fide Premier League star.
Stones is a rare gem
What a talent John Stones is. He is not the only outstanding young player at Everton, but he is perhaps the only walk who could walk straight into any other team in England. Indeed, such is his comfort on the ball, awareness and reading of the game that he would not look out of place in the first X1s of Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid. Stones produced another Rolls Royce display against Arsenal, handling Giroud’s aerial threat with aplomb and barely raising an eyebrow when injured skipper Phil Jagielka was replaced after 51 minutes by Ramiro Funes Mori. Stones is a rare gem.
Cech can lay foundations for title assault
Excellent against Bayern in midweek, Petr Cech had a quieter assignment against Everton. He could do nothing to stop Ross Barkley’s deflected opener beating him at the near post. But the Arsenal No1 showed that his concentration and reflexes remain second to none when he made a fine late save from Kevin Mirallas to preserve his team’s lead. Arsenal are top of the Premier League for the first time in 19 months, and with Cech in goal, they can stay there.