Article

Cazorla concedes Arsenal lacked self-belief under Wenger

23 September 2018 12:55

Arsenal have struggled to challenge for the Premier League title in recent years because of a lack of self-belief under Arsene Wenger, according to former Gunners star Santi Cazorla.

The London club last won the title in 2003-04 and have finished runners-up just twice since, the most recent coming in 2015-16.

During Cazorla's six-year stay, Arsenal finished in the top three just twice and were rarely considered to be a genuine threat to those clubs who were fighting for the crown.

Cazorla has since departed for Villarreal, following Wenger out of the exit door after an injury nightmare at the club.

And the Spaniard feels the final years of the Frenchman's tenure were mired by mentality issues.

"We needed to believe in ourselves more," he told BBC Sport. "To believe that we were capable of competing with the big sides in the Premier League and not just settling for third or fourth.

"We needed to have made that leap to try and battle it out for the title. There were seasons where you felt like we were in with a shout but then through various circumstances it wasn't to be.

"But I think it's all about having that self-belief, that right mentality. To say 'we believe in this team, we know we have a great squad and we can go toe to toe with the big English clubs'.

"I believe that they will do that and for sure they will keep on improving in the future. They are going to have a great season, they have a great team and I wish them all the best."

Cazorla's compatriot Unai Emery replaced Wenger and has his work cut out changing things. The Gunners have endured an indifferent start to the season, winning three and lose two of their first five games.

Emery sought advice from Cazorla about the club before taking the reins and the midfielder expects the former Sevilla coach to do well in the Premier League.

"I think it's a club that can improve quite a few things," Cazorla said. "I gave him [Emery] all the information I could to try and help him out during his period of settling in, and I think he's very happy and I think he's a great manager for Arsenal.

"But everyone really does have to be patient. When you think you've had the same manager for 23 years, a manager who became a real symbol for the club on a worldwide scale, the fans have to show a little patience with Unai and the team, because there has been a lot of changes.

"I believe that if they do things in the right manner, Arsenal have everything required to be a massive club.

"I'm sure that in the coming seasons Arsenal will be making that step up in quality which will hopefully enable them to be on a level playing field and able to fight for the title and other big trophies."

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