Is Santi Cazorla good enough defensively to warrant Arsenal central midfield role?

Santi Cazorla

The Spanish midfielders defensive stats are surprising solid despite him arguably being strong offensively.

After Arsenal’s recent loss to Chelsea, many were left questioning where things had gone wrong for Arsene Wenger’s side against Jose Mourinho once again.

One of those was former Gunners forward Alan Smith, who questioned whether midfielder Santi Cazorla was good enough to play in a central midfield role in the big games for the side.

The Spaniard was moved into the role last season alongside Francis Coquelin to big success, although many question whether he is good enough defensively to be a long-term answer in the role.

However, the stats from this season suggest any questions about his suitability may be unfounded.

  Tackles AttemptedWon TacklesInterceptions attemptedInterceptions WonPoss Won Mid 3rdPoss Won Def 3rdBall RecoveriesAppearancesMins Played
Santiago Cazorla 11 8 15 15 29 27 59 6 529

So far this season, he sits in the top six players for both possession won in the defensive third and midfield third, in fact for the latter, he is the highest midfielder on the list.

When it comes to ball recovery he is similarly high, standing as the highest scoring outfielder player in that stat in the division, ahead of even Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic.

His stats are impressive elsewhere as well, with him enjoying a tackling success of 72%, and when it comes to interceptions, another important defensive statistic, he enjoys a 100% success rate so far.

While everyone knows Cazorla’s attacking talents, he has clearly been working on developing his defensive game as well, and its something that is clearly working out if the stats are to be believed.

And despite Smith’s criticism, it seems Cazorla may be more suited to the role than previously thought, with him likely to remain in it for the foreseeable future.

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