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Andre Santos: Hero or Villain?

It wasn’t a stunning game from start to finish, but the Arsenal did just enough to clinch a controversial win at home to Queen’s Park Rangers. The game had its ups and downs for sure, but it’s the end result that matters. No, it wasn’t a performance for the books, but the positives far outweigh the negatives. We’re back up the league table at the moment, Bacary Sagna is back to full fitness, Jack looked great upon his return after a 500+ day layoff, and we’ve kicked our  André Santos has seemed to have found his feet, after a baptism by fire at the hands of Schalke 04

I hear you all viciously typing away at your keyboards, calling me deluded, or questioning the importance of Santos at all. Before you post that scathing comment, stop and think: what would we have done without Jenkinson, a player who was formerly thought of as a lowly short-term contingency in the event Sagna needed a rest for the Carling Cup? I’ve seen it all when it comes to opinions on Jenkinson, and no one I talked to thought he was anywhere close to being good enough to the Arsenal. I’d like to ask those same people how far they shoved their feet down their mouth. Moral of the story, underestimate no one, especially someone handpicked by Arsène Wenger.

At first glance, Santos was nothing to be afraid of going up against mano y mano, a cuddly maverick going forward, a train wreck at best going backwards. While consistency has yet to prove a factor in judging Santos’ progress on the pitch, his performance should do well to convince doubters that there’s more to him than fancy skills and blistering shots.

Santos had the joint most tackles alongside Lukas Podolski and Mikel Arteta (4), the most interceptions of any player on the pitch (5), 91% pass accuracy and the most touches of the ball of any player on the pitch (100). Was he part machine? Santos worked hard yesterday, and it shows. He was caught flat-footed on one or two occasions, but it was nothing major. His reading of the game is similar to Micah Richards; they don’t see danger until it’s a split second too late. Whether it’s due to sporadic playing time or ability, only time will tell.

He’s nowhere near perfect, but the stats are encouraging, and show that there’s defensive bite to Santos’ offensive bark. The next time you see Santos in the starting lineup, be positive, he may just surprise you.

Anders

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