Arsenal secured three points in their all-London Boxing Day clash with QPR, holding on against a late onslaught to claim a 2-1 victory.
Alexis Sanchez gave his side the lead having missed an earlier penalty, while Tomas Rosicky doubled the advantage despite Olivier Giroud being sent off at the start of the second half.
Charlie Austin’s penalty halved the deficit with 11 minutes remaining after Mathieu Debuchy’s trailing leg brought down Junior Hoilett, but Arsenal held on to return to sixth place in the Premier League.
Santi Cazorla has hit some fine form in recent weeks and this continued in Arsenal's boxing day derby. Having claimed the club's Player of the Month award for December, expectations were high ahead of this clash. Fortunately for the Emirates faithful, he did not disappoint.
The home team's best attacking moves were catalyzed by the Spaniard, who played on the left-side of Wenger's three-man central midfield. His neat and tidy style of play allows him to find pockets of space around the box, from which he managed two attempts at goal, while fashioning a further two key passes.
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His techincal ability is matched by very few in the Premier League, and this showed against QPR. His exploits in the centre of the park saw him complete two dribbles, while completing 82% of his 76 attempts passes. Cazorla is a player who rarely relinquishes possession, and despite the defensive pressure he faced in the final third, he found himself challenged on just three occasions.
Nonetheless, his efforts extended well beyond his attacking requirements, and in fact, he was Arsenal's most impressive player in a defensive capacity. Here he won three tackles and three interceptions, while weighing in with a further two clearances.
Playing in a central midfield role, in which Arsene Wenger's side have previously been accused of a 'lack of bite', Cazorla gave an impressive showing. He was one of few Arsenal players who actually stepped up his game following Giroud's dismissal, ensuring the club secured the narrowest of victories.