By Jamie Dunn
There are four players in Vicente del Bosque's Spain squad to face Belarus and France in World Cup 2014 qualifiers this month who ply their trade in the Premier League.
But, given the performances of players from the Mediterranean country over the weekend, fans in England could be forgiven for thinking that, despite the undoubted quality available in La Liga, that number seems a little low.
Among the four call-ups are Pepe Reina, the Liverpool goalkeeper, the exceptional Manchester City star David Silva, and Fernando Torres, who, despite being yet to convince some that he is back to his lethal best, has scored six goals this season, the latest a simple but well-taken header in the 4-1 win over Norwich City on Saturday.
The other, Santi Cazorla, was in sensational form for Arsenal in the victory over West Ham. At times it looked as though the former Malaga man was willing to take on the entire Hammers XI alone and his late goal – an emphatic left-footed strike – capped off his display in fitting fashion.
WHAT LA ROJA IS COOKING
Spaniards' Saturday ratings
|MATA v Norwich City
ARTETA v West Ham
MICHU v Reading
Praise for the summer signing has not been in short supply since his arrival on north London and Saturday was no exception.
"He had another outstanding performance," said Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager. "You just can admire him if you love football. Just watching him play ... it's a delight to watch him."
Team-mate Theo Walcott enthused: "Santi is the one that has stood out, definitely, and today he was our conductor. He just takes everything and his goal was absolutely fantastic. I don't even know what foot his best is, to be honest."
Torres and Cazorla have staked claims for a place in the starting XI to face Belarus and France but the most glaring omission, and perhaps the greatest indicator of the sheer amount of quality at Del Bosque's disposal, was that of Chelsea star Juan Mata.
It would have been easy for Mata to shy away somewhat this season after the summer spending spree at Stamford Bridge which saw the extravagant pair of Eden Hazard and Oscar recruited to play in similar advanced midfield positions.
Following a busy summer of his own at the Olympics, too, the former Valencia man could easily have taken his foot off the pedal, complaining of burnout and a need for extra rest.
But the forward was in inspired form once again on Saturday against Norwich, orchestrating for his flamboyant team-mates with two assists worthy of the highest international stage, providing the platform for a convincing Chelsea win.
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First, Mata's beautiful, perfectly weighted through-ball split the spine of the Canaries' defence wide open, leaving the Belgian with the simplest of tasks to extend the Blues' lead.
Then, with 15 minutes to play, the 24-year-old's frankly outrageous – and possibly unintentional - pass to Branislav Ivanovic with a flick of his left boot allowed the defender to smash home to complete the scoring.
It was a scintillating performance to cap off an excellent week for Mata, who shone against Arsenal seven days before and against Nordsjaelland in the Champions League and will surely be back in Del Bosque's reckoning before long.
There are others, however, who have never had a call-up but are part of the Spanish contingent currently taking the Premier League by storm.
Mikel Arteta is no stranger to the English top flight after six years as an established and central figure in David Moyes' Everton side but, since his move to Arsenal in 2011, the midfielder has shown himself to be a player of the highest calibre.
While Cazorla will take the headlines for his dynamic performance against West Ham, which culminated in a goal, Arteta continued to be an important presence for the Gunners, operating in a deeper role at Upton Park, where it would have been easy for Wenger's men to be bullied out of the contest after going a goal behind early on.
If the Frenchman should find himself in need of a permanent captain again – as has often been the case in recent years – he could do much worse than appointing the 30-year-old, currently understudy to Thomas Vermaelen. Arteta will surely have considered a move into coaching, such are his leadership qualities and obvious understanding of the game.
Elsewhere, Michu – the cult signing of the summer at Swansea City – continues to find the back of the net, despite his side's wavering form.
The £2 million buy from Rayo Vallecano – a former team-mate of Cazorla in Oviedo's youth team - has captured the imagination so far this season and scored again in the 2-2 draw with Reading on Saturday, leaving him with a tally of six goals in eight games in all competitions.
The likes of Mata, Arteta and Michu may not be good enough for Spain and Del Bosque currently but their respective clubs - and fans of the Premier League - will surely be happier for that fact if they continue to produce such dazzling form.
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