Santi Cazorla's 5 Most Memorable Moments for Arsenal This Season (Video)
Santi Cazorla has enjoyed a superb debut season for Arsenal. The little Spanish genius has been a shining beacon of light in the Premier League this term. He has been one of the best Gunners' players right from the very first moment he started against Sunderland in the first game of the season on August 18.
In a season dominated by personalities like Gareth Bale, Robin van Persie and Luis Suarez, Santi Cazorla has easily been the one Arsenal player who has played like a champion.
Here, Bleacher Report looks at five defining moments from Santi Cazorla's debut season at Arsenal.
What are your favourite Arsenal moments this season, and what would your favourite Cazorla moment be?
Leave your comments, suggestions and best 2012-13 Premier League memories in the section below!
Santi Cazorla's Debut vs. Sunderland (August 18, 2012)
Le Prof does not spend his money recklessly. So, the entire football world of the English Premier League stood to attention when he made his debut for Arsenal.
That game came just 11 days into his life as an Arsenal player in the first match of the season against Sunderland.
Cazorla was outstanding against the Black Cats and dictated the flow of the game from his position in central midfield. Martin O'Neill's team went to the Emirates with a plan to frustrate and suffocate the Gunners, which they largely achieved in a dour 0-0 draw.
However, to anyone with an eye for football, it was obvious that Wenger had picked up a gem in Cazorla, with the Spaniard having an imperious game.
Santi Cazorla's First Goal for Arsenal vs. Liverpool
It says much about the fickle world of football that Santi Cazorla had many doubters despite two fine displays in his opening two games for Arsenal.
For many, Cazorla only arrived in English football after his first goal against Liverpool in the third game of the new season.
Arsenal had endured two frustrating 0-0 draws Sunderland and Stoke City before facing the new-look Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers.
They took the game to the Anfield giants.
Cazorla, once again, underlined his phenomenal ability by scoring his first goal for the club and contributing his first assist in a man-of-the-match performance that saw Arsenal win 2-0.
Santi Cazorla Inspires Arsenal to 5-2 Win over Tottenham Hotspur
After claiming two man of the match awards from his first three games with Arsenal Cazorla's game began to suffer as Arsenal's inconsistencies took hold until November.
The little Spaniard put in some unbelievable performances against the likes of West Ham United, Manchester City and Manchester United. However, those great games were balanced out by equally frustrating performances against Chelsea, Shalke 04, twice, and Queens Park Rangers.
When on-form Tottenham Hotspur rolled into the Emirates on November 17, many Arsenal fans thought their team were on a hiding to nothing.
And when ex-Gunner Emmanuel Adebayor opened the scoring after just 10 minutes it did look like those fears were being realized.
However, when the going gets tough the tough get going.
Santi Cazorla grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and completely dominated the game to such an extent that Arsenal eventually ran out as unlikely 5-2 winners. Spurs may have had a man sent off after just 20 minutes, but their complete collapse came at the hands of Cazorla, who was chief architect in their destruction.
Santi Cazorla's Hat-Trick vs. Reading
Scoring a hat-trick is a special occasion regardless of the opposition.
Many may point to the fact that Cazorla's trio of strikes came against the worst team in the Premier League this season. But that would be doing a great disservice to the skills of the 28-year-old Spanish international.
On December 17, Cazorla oversaw Reading's 5-2 annihilation at the hands of the Gunners. He scored three and contributed one assist in one of the best individual performances seen in the Premier League this season.
Santi Cazorla Runs the Show vs. Aston Villa
By the time the new year turned, Cazorla had already played 28 matches for club and country. His consistent high performances in an inconsistent Arsenal team marked him out as a real top talent.
Teams were not trying to counter the Spaniard by playing, sometimes, two or three defensive midfielders against him.
One such game that comes to mind was Aston Villa's recent visit to the Emirates Stadium.
With Villa facing the very real threat of relegation, they set out to emulate the tactics of Stoke and Sunderland who frustrated the Gunners to two 0-0 draws. Paul Lambert's team fielded two extremely deep lying midfielders to frustrate Cazorla.
All those plans almost went straight out the window after just six minutes when Cazorla opened the scoring. Villa's plan to counter Cazorla was nullified somewhat by the fact that Jack Wilshere was played through the middle as Santi was pushed out to the left.
Andreas Weimann did manage to equalize, but that goal was to prove fruitless as Cazorla scored with just four minutes to go after a superb team move.
This game gave yet another example of the phenomenal skill set the Spaniard possesses. It also provided Arsenal with the optimism and belief that they were still relevant top-four contenders.
He is guaranteed to feature in the EPL Team of the Season come May and should be considered a front-runner to EPL Player of the Season in 2013-14