Cazorla the super Spaniard

Posted by Martin Laurence, WhoScored.com

Whoscored.comA look at the numbers shows that Arsenal's Santi Cazorla ranks ahead of fellow Spaniards David Silva and Juan Mata.

If you tried to sit an Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City fan in a room together to discuss who has the best Spanish playmaker, the argument would probably never end. It's an issue that Vicente del Bosque has the privilege of deciding upon when selecting his national team, and up to now David Silva has tended to be favoured over both Santi Cazorla and Juan Mata.

While the City string-puller had the better afternoon when the champions hosted Mata's Chelsea this weekend, picking up assists for both goals in a deserved 2-0 victory, Cazorla played an even more pivotal role in ensuring a disastrous week for Arsenal ended in triumph.

The Gunners' summer signing has undoubtedly been the star of the show at the Emirates this season and produced when it mattered again after scoring the only goal of the game at Sunderland in their last league fixture. His late winner this weekend came to the relief of the home support, and none more so than Arsene Wenger, having opened the scoring early on against relegation-threatened Aston Villa.

To try and settle the debate as to which Spaniard rules supreme, WhoScored.com takes a look at the trios' respective figures in the Premier League this season.

Each has played unsurprisingly key roles for their sides thus far, though the burden on Cazorla to perform for Arsenal has arguably been stronger than that of his compatriots. Having made the move from Malaga in preseason, the 28-year-old has featured in every single league game for the Gunners, starting 26 of the 27 possible, while Silva has started 22 matches and Mata 21.

In terms of goals the Arsenal man again comes out on top, thanks to three strikes in his last two league matches taking his tally to 11, surpassing Mata's 10 in the process and storming clear of a meagre three from Silva. While the City man is more shot-shy than the other two, his finishing is often lacking, converting just 7% of his 43 shots this season.

Cazorla is far more willing to have a pop, often from any distance, and in turn has attempted more than twice as many shots (87), with a 12.6% conversion rate. It is Mata, however, who stands head and shoulders above his fellow countrymen here in terms of chance conversion. His 10 goals have come from 50 shots, giving the 24 year old a superb 20% conversion, which is a huge improvement from his debut season with the club (9.2%).

When it comes to assists the Chelsea man again has the edge, with nine in the league thus far, enough to trump Silva's seven and Cazorla's six. Nevertheless, it is Silva who has created the most chances per game, with his average of three second only to Leighton Baines in the top flight, though both Mata (2.6 per game) and Cazorla (2.4 per game) also make their way into the top 10. The latter again turns the tables, however, when it comes to successful dribbles per game, with an average of 2.3 more than twice that of Silva (1.1) and five times that of Mata's lowly (0.4).

Looking at the overall passing statistics it is Cazorla who is most central to his side's play, though this is also apparent in a positional sense without analysing the figures. The Arsenal midfielder averages 66.1 passes per game and is accurate with 87.3% of his overall attempts, both of which eclipse the numbers of Silva (58.4 passes per game / 85.6% accurate) and Mata (53.3 passes per game / 84.9% accurate). Elsewhere, Wenger's main man is the league leader for accurate through balls per game (0.8), ahead of Silva in second (0.5).

To round off somewhat of a statistical landslide, Cazorla offers a greater defensive contribution than his two competitors here, averaging 1.7 tackles and 1.8 interceptions per game. Silva's 1.2 tackles and one interception per game are not too far behind, while Mata's averages of one and 0.6 per game respectively see him prop up the pack.

In turn, Cazorla has picked up the best statistical rating from WhoScored of the three (7.82), ranking him only behind Robin van Persie and Luis Suarez in England's elite league, some way ahead of Silva (7.37) and Mata (7.26).

It seems that although a slight mid-season slump may have blemished an incredible debut season, Cazorla is certainly staking his claim as the Premier League's number one player from the world’s greatest footballing nation at present.

All stats courtesy of whoscored.com

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