When the Europa League Round of 32, 16 and Quarter-Final draws were made, there was only one team Arsenal fans wanted to face, Villarreal.
Was it because the Spanish side were having a poor season and they would prove to be easy opposition? No. Was it because Arsenal supporters fancied a trip to the Castellon region of Spain? No. It was because of one man, Santi Cazorla.
The love the 5’6” midfielder has from fans of the north London side is almost unparalleled out of any of the players to play for the club in the past 10 years, and in doing so Cazorla has made himself a firm fan favourite of Arsenal despite only being at the club for only six years.
Signed from Malaga in the summer of 2012, Cazorla was coming into a side deflated after the departure of club captain Robin van Persie that same window, but it was quickly apparent that the creative midfielder was a special player.
Instantly adored by the fans for his flawless passing and footwork, Cazorla quickly established himself as one of the best playmakers in the league, scoring 12 goals and assisting 12 in his debut season in England.
Although his output was less significant the following campaign, the Spanish midfielder scored one of the club’s most important goals when his free-kick against Hull City in the FA Cup final kick-started the comeback Arsenal needed to win their first piece of silverware in nine years.
A move to central midfield the following season is where Cazorla really began to star for Arsenal, though. Partnered alongside Francis Coquelin in a midfield pivot, the duo had great success together on the pitch and guided the club to yet another FA Cup title.
And then, the injuries came. For as much as Cazorla is loved by everyone around Arsenal, his career with the club could have been so much more had it not been for two major injuries which ruled him out for almost two years of football.
Back to full fitness and returning to his hometown club Villarreal, Cazorla is now back playing football to the delight of football fans everywhere, and still playing with the smile on his face that made him a cult hero at Arsenal.
Arsenal fans, what is your favourite Cazorla memory? Let us know!
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