Cazorla, ya’ no say Daddy Snow me I go blame

Written by @MainlyAnArse

“Cazorla, ya’ no say daddy Snow me I go blame

A licky boom boom down”


My love for the midfield artisans of our beautiful game runs deep. As a young English boy living in Wales during the 90s, I locked myself in my bedroom on Sunday afternoons, gazing mesmerisingly on as Zvonimir Boban and Pavel Nedved unlocked and terrorised defences during their allotted air time on Channel 4’s Football Italia. The awareness and ability to create space that accompanied such players, thinking several moves ahead of mere mortals of football (which always manages to be lazily compared to chess) has fascinated me from the get-go. How is it that one player, born human, just like you and I, taking part in the same training and preparation as those around them, can see the game so differently, and provide a platform for glory to those more often revered strikers?

And so, when I turned on the television at home one morning in 1995, settling down on the aged leather sofa with a bowl of cornflakes in hand, imagine the rapture that exploded inside me to see Bruce Rioch and Dennis Bergkamp co-handling an Arsenal shirt with the Non-Flying Dutchman’s name and preferred number 10 on the back. He may not have set Serie A alight but his reputation and ability were not lost on me. Perhaps, it was the fact that up until that point, our transfer strategy had represented a twisted dark fantasy. Without the need to touch on George Graham’s style of play, the likes of Chris Kiwomya, John Jensen, and Glen Helder coming into the club, did little to foment my imagination. The arrival of DB10, on the other hand, smashing both our transfer record and wage structure at the time, set a new standard and dawned a new era at the club. Finally, one of the casting members of Football Italia was on his way to England. And he was going to represent MY club!

It’s hard to look back over our transfer dealings since then and compare another signature, both in terms of stature and the unquantifiable ‘message of intent’ that was left reverberating around the Premier League boardrooms. Of course, we’ve had many great players pass through London Colney since then, but none which landed with such emphasis. I still get excited at the odd transfer announcement. Mesut Ozil being a prime example of that. But, you lose an indiscernible bubble of magic and awe which encapsulates such a moment as you get older and the brain becomes more analytical than emotional. I think this leads us to deep down wanting ‘one of our own’ to make it over a big money signing. We all hark back to the days of one club leaders like Tony Adams , for example. Or my boyhood hero Paul Merson. I’ll also readily admit that Ashley Cole had a special place in my heart until that relationship went sour.

My brain is wired to analysis cause and effect. I can’t see a helpless immigrant without thinking ‘this is a direct result of war’, I can’t witness ignorance without believing education or surroundings has failed someone, and I can’t watch a striker run through on goal, smashing the ball into the top corner, without acknowledging the pass or movement that created that opportunity. Of course, some goals are converted by chance, being in the right place at the right time, or individual brilliance. I understand that. But, in a team sport, where 11 players contribute to the end product, I believe it to be ignorant not to highlight what came before it. And of course, conversely, it would be equally reticent to blame a lack of goal scoring opportunities on a certified goal scorer or particular attacking component.

The creative element of a side can break down far further back than we might think. Too many sideway passes in the midfield, lop sided wingers, and centre backs at full back positions can damage the way in which a team composes itself from the moment it retrieves the ball or attempts to recycle possession. In steps the creative midfielder. The ever moving, free thinking, cyclical component of any true footballing side. In steps Santi Cazorla.

We’ve all seen the stats. Games won with Cazorla starting. Games won without Cazorla starting. Etc.. But it’s the flow of the team that is most greatly affected by his absence. His undeniable composure on the ball. The way he effortlessly links with any member of the team and instantly raises their game. He is a creative cake baked to perfection and the icing on top is his constant smile. In a world perpetuating hate, prejudice, and intolerance, to see such a happy go lucky character enjoy life is important for the game, it’s fans, and the world in general.

I see many similarities in Granit Xhaka. Physically, two very different people, granted. However, when either step on the pitch, they instantly become the heartbeat of the team. Santi – by playing quick short passes, becoming the link between defense and our attacking midfield options. Retaining possession and moving the ball in either direction so efficiently. And Granit – by breaking up play, imposing himself on the ball, and using his vision to launch a more direct counter attack.

For some time, I worried how we would go about replacing that little Spaniard’s infectious smile. Now I’m confident that a bit of that Swiss cheese-y grin will do the trick!



Gooner Ramble

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