Santi Cazorla takes no time to find his talented feet

Arsenal fans are used to waiting for new recruits to settle in but the veteran Spaniard has made himself at home

First impressions can be crucial for a new signing, especially an expensive one from abroad. Given the excellent recruiting record of Arsène Wenger and his chief scout, Steve Rowley, Arsenal supporters are more patient than most, but even for them there is always the fear that £10 million or more may have been spent on another Marouane Chamakh.

So when Santi Cazorla, the chunky little Spanish midfielder signed from Malaga last summer, strode forward within minutes of his debut against Sunderland and hit such a fierce left-footed shot that the keeper was grateful merely to punch it up in the air, the Emirates buzzed with relief.

Accorded a standing ovation every time he took a corner, he was Man of the Match and has been a serious contender in every game since. At Liverpool he made and scored the goals in Arsenal's first win of the season and against Southampton (6-1) and Montpellier (2-1) last week he was outstanding again, the highlight being his link-up play with another of the summer signings, Lukas Podolski.

It could reasonably be argued that as a 27-year-old with 48 caps for a side as gifted as the modern Spain, Cazorla, at an initial £12.7m, hardly represented a gamble. He was never going to be one of those raw youngsters Wenger nurtured before selling on at a huge profit.

The one question, as with every foreign import, was how quickly he would adapt to the rhythms of the Premier League. "We very quickly saw Cazorla was not going to take six months to settle," Wenger said after that Liverpool game. Not even the most optimistic Arsenal fan could have expected anything like Martin Keown's assessment of the new man: Liam Brady and Cesc Fabregas rolled into one.

Between the Montpellier match and today's demanding assignment at Manchester City, Cazorla confirmed how easy it had been to find his talented feet. "I'm finding playing with the team really enjoyable, I like it," he said.

"As a team we can improve on some things. And we'll do that. It's very easy to adapt. The style of football that they have, I like and is good for my style of play. My team-mates support me very well. And so I'm very happy. The fans have been fantastic and I intend to ensure that they are happy with my work. The truth is this has been a fantastic move for me."

He made the switch after a single season at Malaga, the Spanish club having signed him from Villarreal thanks to heavy Qatari investment, which suddenly dried up this summer and led to the coach, Manuel Pellegrini, describing Cazorla's fee as a "giveaway".

He had been very much a Villarreal man, staying for the best part of nine years, and helping them become regular Champions' League contestants – although he was injured for the 2006 semi-final in which Arsenal knocked them out thanks to Jens Lehmann's late penalty save.

Part of adapting to English football is always assumed to be the physical aspect, but Cazorla has not found that a problem, even with his size. "There are lots of small players like David Silva, Juan Mata, myself. The Premier League might be a stronger style, with taller players, but it's not a change. In Spain and in all leagues there are strong players as well.

"You have to adapt to the physical side of the Premier League but I like that. It was never difficult for me, even as a youth. Ultimately football is played with the ball and isn't dependent on your height or strength. I haven't really come across a difference between Spain and England."

The difficulty of an away fixture against the champions is universal. What does he know about Manchester City? "I know they are the favourites, no? They have a really great team, really good players. It's going to be a very complicated game and we're going to have to do things very well, keeping possession, because it will be very, very difficult to pick up points at City's ground."

What he has seen so far from an Arsenal team that has conceded only twice in five games convinces him that they can be serious challengers for the title: "Well, we believe so. Listen, the objective is to fight for it. It's clear there are lots of great teams, not just City. The objective is to win it and be there fighting right until the end."

Financial doping? Mancini defends transfer spending

Manchester City's manager Roberto Mancini has again defended his club's transfer spending against criticism from Arsenal's Arsène Wenger, who has referred to it as financial doping. In a busy summer window, City spent roughly twice as much as they brought in by adding players like Javi Garcia, Jack Rodwell and Scott Sinclair.

"Every team plays with 11 players," Mancini said. "If we want to stay at the top with all of the other teams that have spent a lot of money in the last 10 years – a lot, a lot, a lot – I think that we need to improve sometimes and buy top players." But he admits that Arsenal, who more or less broke even after selling Robin van Persie and Alex Song for £49m, bought well in acquiring Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud.

Steve Tongue

Manchester City v Arsenal is on Sky Sports 1 today, kick-off 4pm

News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge
booksJK Rowling to publish new story set in wizard's world for Halloween
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites those Star Wars rumours
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
people

Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch
tv

Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent

News
i100
Life and Style
tech

Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into conflicts
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'
film

"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker