Wenger salutes Cazorla’s ‘outstanding’ display at Man City

Arsenal's Santi Cazorla (L) celebrates with Olivier Giroud after opening the scoring from the penalty spot.

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Santi Cazorla was hailed as "fantastic" and "outstanding" after inspiring Arsenal to a superb 2-0 victory at Manchester City.

The Spaniard struck a first-half penalty and then delivered the free-kick for Olivier Giroud to head the Gunners’ 67th-minute second in a win that significantly boosted their Barclays Premier League top-four hopes.

Arsenal successfully nullified the threat of title-chasing City, who struggled to create meaningful opportunities, and looked much more incisive with playmaker Cazorla at the heart of all their good work.

Manager Arsene Wenger said: "Since Cazorla plays central – he played a lot wide – now he is at a level of his career where he can have more influence.

"He is fantastic because he gets you out of pressure in very tight situations and finds openings that are interesting. He shows you as well how important it is to be two-footed in the middle of the park. Left and right-footed, I think it is a vital quality for a midfielder today."

Cazorla’s performance was also one that caught the eye of Arsenal’s record goalscorer Thierry Henry.

Henry, working as a pundit for Sky Sports, said: "He controlled that midfield. To come and play the way he did here at the Etihad Stadium was outstanding.

"What a player. I said before the game that people were focusing on (Alexis) Sanchez but at the moment, Cazorla is the guy that makes the team tick."

MORE ARSENAL

Arsenal’s win was their first against a team that finished in the previous season’s top four since October 2011. It also lifted them within a point of fourth-placed Manchester United.

But while they can look up with renewed confidence, second-placed City might feel a bit more anxious about their position.

The champions had wiped out an eight-point deficit to pull level with Chelsea at the top of the table but a failure to win in their last two outings has left them five points adrift again.

The pressure is now on with a crucial trip to Stamford Bridge to face their title rivals in a fortnight’s time.