Should Arsenal star Cazorla play as a holding midfielder at Chelsea?

Santi Cazorla played as a holding midfielder against Galatasaray, but should he do the same when Arsenal face Chelsea.

The Gunners travel to Stamford Bridge on Sunday, with both clubs looking to keep their unbeaten records intact heading into the international break.

Both London sides head into the fixture on the back of wins in Europe, with Chelsea winning 1-0 at Sporting CP and Arsenal seeing off Galatasaray 4-1 at home.

For Chelsea, the performance was like any other, with just a lack of finishing ability preventing the Blues from adding to their tally, but for Arsenal - who have a number of first-team stars out with injury - the victory seems to have been a turning point in a season that has been successful, if not impressive, so far.

The absences of Aaron Ramsey and About Diaby, and the benching of Jack Wilshere, saw Santi Cazorla dropping deep and playing as a holding midfielder in the victory. Predominately an attacking midfielder, the 29-year-old Spaniard has never received much praise for his defensive play, but he looked assured in the deeper role against the Turkish side, whilst managing to still provide the creative spark that has become his trademark.

  TeamShotsKey PassesSuccessful DribblesBlocksTacklesPassing AccuracyTouchesMins Played
Santiago Cazorla Arsenal 3 1 5 1 3 81% 126 90

He won three tackles and completed one block from his deeper role, whilst also taking charge of controlling the play - touching the ball 126 times and completing 81% of his 76 attempted passes. He completed more defensive actions than Mathieu Flamini - whose sole job is to be the destroyer of the team - whilst still impressing in attack despite the prominence of Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck.

Going on Wednesday night’s performance, Arsene Wenger must surely believe that Cazorla would be a good choice to use in the holding role at Stamford Bridge, and whilst he impressed in the Champions League, Chelsea are a very different, and much more threatening prospect, than Galatasaray.

The Blues are willing to dominate possession in the opponents half, and there is a pace to their play that was absent from Galatasaray’s performance at the Emirates Stadium. Chelsea also register more shots per game, more shots on target per game, and are generally just a more attacking side, choosing to play high up the pitch to increase pressure on the opposition’s defensive line.

Whilst having a good shield to protect the defence is something important to Arsenal when they travel to West London, the importance of Cesc Fabregas to the Blues is key, with his precise passing able to take advantage of the bad defensive positioning of Cazorla, who, for all his defensive benefits, was playing too high up the pitch against Galatasaray to be considered an out and out defensive midfielder.

The Gunners will be looking to revert the 6-0 humiliation that took place at Stamford Bridge last season, but if Cazorla features in defensive midfield, they will be hoping that the Blues do not start with the same intensity as they did in that game. The midfield was overrun too easily last season, and the Spanish creator is not the man to prevent that from happening, even if he were to put in a good performance.

However, in the current situation, Arsene Wenger may have no other choice than risking his creative outlet in the deeper position - and it will likely cost them their unbeaten start to the Premier League season.

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