Football: Arsene Wenger's detractors have long lamented his inability to see his team’s failings, but his eye for a bargain remains undimished.
The name of Santi Cazorla can be added to a long list of stellar signings made by the Arsenal manager after the Spaniard’s latest eye-catching display, this time at Upton Park on Saturday.
Malaga boss Manuel Pellegrini claimed that his club were “giving away” Cazorla when, amid financial strife, they offloaded him to Arsenal for a knockdown fee of £12.7m over the summer.
Watching Cazorla control this encounter from start to finish, capping his man-of-the-match performance with a searing long-range drive that beat Irons keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen all ends up, it is hard not to believe that the going rate for his talents could have been triple that. It is even harder to understand why no other club came in for him when the La Liga outfit was forced into a firesale of its prized assets in a bid to pay off soaring debts.
“It is a pleasure to watch him. It’s a delight to see what he did on the pitch,” purred Wenger, whose side bounced back from last weekend’s defeat to Chelsea, as goals from Olivier Giroud, substitute Theo Walcott and Cazorla cancelled out Mohamed Diame’s impressive opener for West Ham.
Sam Allardyce was magnanimous in defeat and the Irons manager can take great credit that his side do not play like one that has been newly promoted.
Andy Carroll, on loan from Liverpool, gave an assured display, though the positives for West Ham were tempered by the loss of Ricardo Vaz Te, who dislocated his shoulder and could be out for up to 12 weeks.