Santi Cazorla made a relatively slow start to the 2014/15, by his high standards.
With a wealth of creative talent around him at Emirates Stadium, the Spanish playmaker was not seen to be making as big an impact on games as he once was.
He, like the Gunners, has grown into the season, though.
Cazorla is now a key cog in Arsene Wenger’s midfield, with the injured Mesut Ozil barely missed.
Ex-Arsenal man Ray Parlour believes the 30-year-old has be an influential figure through the busy festive and New Year period, and Opta statistics appear to back up that claim - with the ex-Villarreal midfielder seeing plenty of the ball and always looking to make a telling contribution in the final third.
|Match||Accurate Pass||Total Pass||Goal Assist||Total Att Assist||Goals||Total Scoring Att||Fwd Pass||Touches||Mins Played|
|Santiago Cazorla||Arsenal vs Hull City||82||94||0||2||0||6||25||135||90|
|Santiago Cazorla||Stoke vs Arsenal||63||70||0||0||1||4||22||92||90|
|Santiago Cazorla||Arsenal vs QPR||62||76||0||2||0||2||27||102||90|
|Santiago Cazorla||Arsenal vs Southampton||56||69||0||5||0||2||23||91||90|
|Santiago Cazorla||Arsenal vs Newcastle||53||63||0||2||2||5||18||88||90|
|Santiago Cazorla||Liverpool vs Arsenal||38||41||1||2||0||2||14||65||90|
|Santiago Cazorla||Southampton vs Arsenal||34||38||0||1||0||2||11||61||90|
|Santiago Cazorla||West Ham vs Arsenal||34||41||0||8||1||4||18||75||90|
Parlour told Sky Sports: “He’s been superb. He’s really stepped up his game. He’s such an influential player on the ball, he can make things happen, he can see a pass, certainly in the last month or so.
“He’s knows there’s competition now. If he keeps performing the way he is, I’m sure he’ll be the first name on the team sheet in that midfield area, because he’s been absolutely brilliant over the last month.”
Arsenal are well-stocked in the playmaking department, so Cazorla will need to maintain his form if he is to remain a regular part of the starting XI.
With the likes of Theo Walcott back in action and Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta and Jack Wilshere all ready to return at some stage, competition for places will be fierce.
Cazorla has, however, made the most of his opportunity and would expect to retain his place for as long as he gives Wenger no reason to drop him.