Wilshere enjoying Cazorla link-up
Jack Wilshere says Santi Cazorla should be nicknamed 'Messi' after watching Arsenal's new hero inspire a north London derby win over Tottenham.
Wilshere and Cazorla both sung each other's praises following Saturday's 5-2 Premier League win over Spurs at the Emirates Stadium. But England midfielder Wilshere took the love-in to extremes when he suggested his new team-mate bore comparison with all-time greats Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona. Asked if Arsenal's players had a nickname for their new talisman, Wilshere said:
"Not yet. Maybe it should be Messi!" Record signing Cazorla was dubbed 'Paquirrin' (Fat Boy) in his native Spain because of his resemblance to a celebrity who goes by the same moniker. When this was pointed out to Wilshere, he said: "Maradona then." Wilshere has played alongside Cazorla just four times since his return from 17 months out injured but he claimed the 27-year-old was as good as anyone he had encountered. He said: "His touch and his vision is just a joke. He is a dream to play with.
"He never gives the ball away, he is creative and busy round the pitch. He is a joy to play with." Playing down comparisons with Cesc Fabregas, he added:
"He is a different player to Cesc. Cesc is more of a passer.
"With Santi, he can pick the ball up, he can beat people, he has got a great shot on him. He is just different class and he is great to play with."
Cazorla was unstoppable yesterday against 10-man Spurs and Wilshere was in awe.
"There was one point when there were three players around him and he just dribbled out of it," he said.
"That is up there with the best. I think I will have to watch it again to learn a few thing off him!" Cazorla's performance was all the more remarkable after he was forced to travel to Panama and back for a Spain friendly he played no part in. Wilshere said:
"I spoke to him on Friday and he said it was an 11-hour flight.
"He doesn't speak much English - he just smiled. "I think with the competition in the Spanish team, if they call you, you have to go.
"You can't say no - otherwise they'll replace you with a player who is just as good." Cazorla himself joked:
"A few of the players have said that I should go back and do the journey again, because it's obviously helped my form!
"It was a long journey and a hard one, but I was able to rest and I feel good now." The £15million arrival from Malaga was also feeling good about his fledgling midfield partnership with Wilshere.
"Jack has a quality that everyone knows about, and he is a crucial player for us," he said.
"Every day, he gets better and playing with him gets easier every day, as he improves his level and finds his fitness again.
"We have to be patient but he will keep on improving.
"I am starting to understand Jack a little bit more but that is the same with all of my team-mates. We are getting better with every game."
Yesterday was Cazorla's first taste of a north London derby and, although he had played derbies in Spain, he admitted they were "not as intense". He added:
"Everyone had been explaining to me that we had to win, that it was a derby, that there is so much rivalry.
"The main thing is that the fans were able to enjoy themselves and that, by the end of the game, they could be quite comfortable.
"It's beautiful the way they have been with me ever since I arrived. It means a lot."
Cazorla's exploits may not yet have earned him a new nickname but he already has his own song among Arsenal supporters. He said:
"It makes me really happy that the fans show me so much affection. It's lovely to hear."
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