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Santi's festive treat

Ray Parlour praised hat-trick hero Santi Cazorla's 'amazing' performance in Arsenal's 5-2 win over Reading.

Last Updated: 27/12/12 at 09:36 Post Comment

Cazorla: Congratulated by Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain

Cazorla: Congratulated by Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain

The Spain midfielder has been one of the Gunners' stand-out performers this season and his treble, along with strikes from Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott fired Arsenal to fifth in the Premier League.

And Parlour reckons with Cazorla - a summer signing from Malaga - Mikel Arteta and Jack Wilshere in their side, Arsenal have one of the best midfields in the top flight.

"Cazorla was amazing last night," Parlour, a former Arsenal midfielder himself, told Sky Sports News.

"This season Cazorla has been different class. You never know when players come from different countries how they're going to settle into the Premier League but some of his movement and his passing was superb against Reading. It was a joy to watch.

"You always expect something to happen when Cazorla gets on the ball. He was fantastic on Monday night - let's hope that continues for the rest of the season.

"Cazorla, Wilshere and Arteta - I can't see a better three in the league this year; they've been outstanding. I know Manchester United and Manchester City have got great midfields as well but this three will continue to improve."

The win was a welcome boost for Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who has come in for criticism following a poor run of form, but Parlour was keen to credit the performance as well, describing their play in the first half as their best of the season.

He also hopes the win can spark a spell to rejuvenate the London side's season.

"The next four games are all winnable for Arsenal, which is very important," said Parlour, referring to the Gunners' trip to Wigan, back-to-back home matches with West Ham and Newcastle and their New Year's Day clash at Swansea.

"Arsenal will take a lot out of last night, scoring five goals away from home. You can say Reading have been shipping goals all season but you've still got to go there and do that.

"They did it with lots of confidence and passed the ball so well in first half - the best I've seen them play in the opening 45 minutes.

"Reading weren't very good but Arsenal can only do what they can. Wenger will be very pleased with that first half performance. In the second half they dropped off the pace a little bit, although they still looked dangerous on the break."

British boys

Parlour was also encouraged by the performance of Walcott, playing as centre forward. Walcott - whose contract runs out in the summer - has been eager to take on and Parlour believes the former Southampton ace, along with several other up-and-coming British talents, can provide a bright future for the club.

"Theo Walcott has wanted to play there all season, got his chance, scored his goal and his movement off the ball was very good as well," said Parlour.

"He's scored plenty of goals this season, had plenty of assists and I hope he gets a run of games now at centre forward.

"If it was down to Wenger [Walcott's new contract] would be done straight away. January 1 isn't far away now and then Walcott will have six months left on his contract and he can start talking to other clubs. I'm hoping it can be done very quickly.

"They've got great players coming through the ranks - Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs... They are a good base of British players who can really push this club along and with the likes of Arteta, who have the experience, around them, that could really help."

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he solution is to not feel sorry for any of Jabba, Gold or Sullivan. They're all deeply unpleasant and all deserve each other. If only West Ham would sign Barton and Suarez then no one would ever need to despise any other club.

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gree with all of this, good work. Brazil has obviously mellowed you...

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lassic management. Build them up and then knock them back. Raise expectations and then dampen them. Create a dynamic where by you demand the most from your team, but where the team are given room to manoeuvre unexpected or unwanted results. Classy work by Van Gaal, he really reminds me a lot of me. A smart cookie, make no doubt.

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