Santi Cazorla: Arsenal lack 'winning mentality' and must address their self-belief, says midfielder ahead of FA Cup semi-final against Wigan
Midfielder has been disappointed with Arsenal's fall down the Premier League table and admits he is determined to secure silverware whether it is with the Gunners or elsewhere
Arsenal’s lack of a winning mentality and self-belief is to blame for their recent slump in form, midfielder Santi Cazorla has admitted ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final clash against Wigan.
The Gunners have fallen out of the Premier League title race and are in serious danger of missing out on the top four altogether following the 3-0 defeat to fifth-placed Everton on the weekend. The FA Cup is now the only option the club have of ending their barren run that has seen them go nine years without a trophy, and Cazaorla has admitted in the build-up to the Wembley match that the side have shown a lack of a champions mentality in recent weeks which has cost them dear.
“We haven’t got a winning mentality and we have to believe in ourselves (more),” said Cazorla. “Sometimes you can get used to not fighting, but we can’t do that. Arsenal is and will always be a historic football club, we have to look forward.
“We’ve been unlucky in several games. We had a lot of chances to win against Manchester United and there was Ozil’s penalty (against Bayern). We couldn’t recover after going out against Bayern in the Champions League.
“And the defeat against Stoke finished us. You can’t lose against Stoke if you aspire to be the next champion.”
Worryingly for Gunners’ fans, Cazorla explained that he is determined to succeed in his hunt for silverware, and if that means leaving the club to boost his chances, then he is willing to make that decision.
The north London side have already seen their best players in recent years such as Robin van Persie, Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas leave the club after long spells without success, and Cazorla could also look elsewhere in the future – but only if he does not reach that goal with his current club.
“I want titles and that is why I came to Arsenal,” Cazorla explained. “Every football player wants to win titles. We’ve gone many years without winning one. And if not, what I’ll look for in my next destination is to have the chance to win.”
The midfielder agreed to extend his contract last month, tying his future down until 2016 when he will be 31, and Cazorla is refusing to rule out a return to Spain if he feels that is the best option available.
“I don’t want to close doors, but nowadays I’ve a contract with Arsenal for two more seasons,” Cazorla explained. “When I’m turning 31 I’ll evaluate myself and I’ll choose the best option. In which case, I would be delighted to come back [to Spain].”
The club’s dramatic fall from the top of the Premier League has coincided with the absence of a number of key players, with long-term injuries to Theo Walcott, Mesut Özil, Jack Wilshere and the recently returned Aaron Ramsey robbing the side of their pace in attack.
It was the £42.5m addition of Özil last summer that renewed Arsenal supporters’ hopes that they could challenge for a first Premier League title since 2003-04, and while their season got off to a good start, it has tailed off as injuries have taken their toll.
Cazorla feels that the big-spending approach is the right one to take if Arsenal are to compete in the years to come, and wants to see more additions of the talents akin to the German playmaker in the near-future.
“Arsenal has everything to win. History, infrastructure, an incredible stadium and great players,” he told website Sport360. “But we have to improve at crucial moments and sign the best football players because if you don’t do that, you may lag behind others.
“That is what makes it different at other clubs. You’ve a good example in Manchester City who signed Fernandiho, (Alvaro) Negredo... or even Manchester United with (Robin) van Persie and (Juan) Mata.
“Arsenal know what they need next season, but it’s almost impossible to win a title if we haven’t got these kind of things.”
He also took the time to back his midfield team-mate Özil after the 25-year-old was recently criticised for his own slump in form. Cazorla feels that if the fans show confidence in his abilities, then they will reap the rewards of an “extraordinary” player.
“He has come at a difficult time,” admitted Cazorla. “When he arrived in London, he did an extraordinary job and people demanded his best level every match. But when he decreased his performance, the team suffered.
“Besides, I read a lot of articles about Özil in Spain that affected him. We need to give him confidence and to show affection.”
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