Santi Cazorla was replaced at half time by Arsene Wenger in Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur in the north London derby on Sunday and it was revealed that the Spanish playmaker was “dizzy” and couldn’t continue.
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Cazorla, 30, was overrun in midfield with Dele Alli, Eric Dier and Mousa Dembele dominating proceedings in the first half and on multiple occasions the hub of Arsenal’s midfield and the man that makes them tick, Cazorla, gave the ball away.
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That prompted Wenger to replace him with Mathieu Flamini at half time and speaking to the press after the game, Wenger couldn’t fully explain what had happened to Cazorla.
“We suffered in the first half because Cazorla was at 30 percent of his potential. He was dizzy. So many times I was sitting there and didn’t know whether to take him off or not,” Wenger said. “You never know. Maybe he could get better. At half time I took him off… He is not sick but he was just dizzy and couldn’t move. You could see that when he was on the pitch. I didn’t really know what he had so at half time I took him off and I hope it is nothing bad but it doesn’t look like it. He says he’s alright now.”
Wenger also confirmed that Cazorla did not go to hospital after the game but after not suffering a blow to the head, or any hefty challenges, it does boggle the mind as to how he was all of a sudden struck down with this mystery dizzy spell.
Arsenal rallied in the second half without their Spanish playmaker and could have nicked the win late on if it wasn’t for Hugo Lloris‘ saves and Olivier Giroud‘s off-target headers. How important is Cazorla to the Gunners? Wenger believes not having him at 100 percent in the first half had a huge impact on the outcome of the game.
“I just saw that Cazorla is usually the guide in our game and he didn’t get the ball,” Wenger said. “Tottenham is a good side when you play with one guy less. In the offensive buildup Mesut Ozil was a bit isolated in the first half because he didn’t have many options and usually they [Cazorla and Ozil] combine well together.”
Cazorla has been a revelation alongside Francis Coquelin in the deep-lying central midfield positions. After moving back from a more attacking role midway through last season, he now dictates the tempo of Arsenal’s attack and is at the heart of their fluid pass-and-move style. When he’s not at it, you certainly notice it and on Sunday his absence almost cost Arsenal dear in the north London derby.
He has been called up by Spain for the upcoming friendlies against England and Belgium next week but it remains to be seen if he will play for his national team or pull out and take a break.