Player of the Season - in third place...

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Player of the Season - in third place...

This week we'll announce the Vitality Player of the Season - as voted by the fans.

In third place is Santi Cazorla. The Spanish playmaker was 'reborn' in 2014/15 and received 8.4 per cent of the votes.

Arsenal managing editor Chris Harris gives his verdict on the 30-year-old.

"He makes the other players good around him, and that's an outstanding quality for a midfielder."

"There were a few games this season when he was unplayable. He’s a model to watch"

Wenger on Santi Cazorla

Arsene Wenger prefers to focus on the collective when he talks about his squad, but even the Frenchman found it hard to reflect on 2014/15 without lavishing praise on Santi Cazorla.

What a joy the Spaniard must be to play alongside. Give him the ball and he'll keep it. Make a run and he'll spot it. Put him under pressure and he'll deliver.

Cazorla's season started with a question mark. How would this classic No 10 fit into the team when Mesut Ozil appeared to be Wenger's preferred option behind the striker? Could Cazorla still cut it on the flank as he approached 30?

He responded by finding a new home in central midfield.

There was a touch of serendipity about Cazorla's reinvention - injuries to Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta had left Wenger short of established options in that area. But Cazorla's ball retention, vision and experience made him a perfect foil for Francis Coquelin.

By the end of the season Ramsey and Wilshere were available, but they couldn't depose Cazorla from the centre. He might take some shifting next season too.

 

Santi Cazorla scores against Manchester City

Santi Cazorla scores against Manchester City

 

WHAT THEY SAID:

"You could say that Santi Cazorla - throughout the season - was absolutely top, from the start to the finish, and he played more than 50 games. There were a few games this season when he was unplayable. He’s a model to watch. He’s a fantastic example that no matter how tall you are, it’s about how good you are."
Arsene Wenger

“Santi's a little magician on the pitch. You saw him out there so many times [against Man City], how he wriggles out of certain situations, and he had a very good game."
Aaron Ramsey

“Santi Cazorla is a spectacular player. You never know whether he will kick the ball with his right or left foot. Also, he moves with short but quick strides, which is a remarkable trademark too. Although I knew about his quality, playing alongside him makes me very happy.”
Alexis

SANTI’S FINEST MOMENTS:

January 18, 2015: Manchester City 0-2 Arsenal
Cazorla and Coquelin's partnership came of age in an eyebrow-raising win at Manchester City. Cazorla slalomed out of trouble time and again to relieve the pressure in the second half, having fired the visitors ahead with one of many coolly-taken spot-kicks in Arteta's absence. A precise delivery to assist Giroud's goal capped a perfect away performance.

May 30, 2015: Aston Villa 0-4 Arsenal
Cazorla vindicated Wenger's decision to keep him in the centre with a man-of-the-match display in the FA Cup final. Cazorla was magisterial at Wembley, impossible to pin down as he carried the ball dangerously and passed with precision.

 

Santi Cazorla

Santi Cazorla

 

MICHAEL COX’S ASSESSMENT:

Santi Cazorla has been outstanding since he joined Arsenal three years ago, but this season he’s impressed in a different way.

Rather than contributing goals and assists in the final third, he’s played a more withdrawn role, generally alongside Francis Coquelin in the second half of the season, and put Arsenal in control of matches with his reliable, slick passing.

Cazorla’s performance in the 2-0 victory at Manchester City in January was the complete all-round midfield display: flawless passing, a surprising amount of tackling, some mazy dribbles to create counter-attacking situations, plus a goal and an assist.

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