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Wenger on filling the Santi void

Anyone who watches us regularly knows how important Santi Cazorla is to the team.

The Spain international has missed the last seven games and four of them have been drawn. It’s too simplistic to say that Santi’s absence is the reason for dropped points, but Arsene Wenger accepts that he makes a big difference.

“He’s important to our technical stability in the team, to the quality of our decision-making and to our build-up from deep midfield to the high midfield,” said the boss. “That’s an important stage because it gets the ball out from the defenders.

“We have enough quality players in our side to get around that, even if Santi a massive player for us. We are good enough to find solutions despite the fact he’s not there.”

While Santi’s been out the manager has tried different permutations with Francis Coquelin alongside either Aaron Ramsey, Mohamed Elneny or Granit Xhaka.

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The latter has had to wait for opportunities since joining the club in the summer, but Wenger says he’s progressing well.

“I’m very happy with Granit's commitment,” he said. “I think he’s developing well. He hasn’t maybe started enough since the start of the season but he is adapting to a different league, a different way of playing. Overall I’m happy because every day he’s focused on working hard and I’m confident he’ll get his number of games.

“In November you see the first signs of players who need a little breather, especially in areas where you fight and run a lot. I try to combine both to give players fresh legs and also get around the fact that Santi’s not there.”

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