All Guns Blazing: Santi Cazorla’s form means he must stay for title challenge

Arsenal's Santi Cazorla gives the thumbs up to fans after the Barclays Premier League match at the K

Arsenal's Santi Cazorla gives the thumbs up to fans after the Barclays Premier League match at the KC Stadium, Hull. Picture: PA/Lynne Cameron - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

In our weekly Arsenal fan column, Alex Bellotti says keeping the squad together this summer could be trickier than Gooners might think.

Arsenal’s victory at Hull was one of the most entertaining performances I’ve seen this season and another indication that we’re making subtle strides in the right direction.

With Champions League football more or less guaranteed for next season, there isn’t really much to talk about, which has led to a deluge of articles about what the Gunners need to do challenge Chelsea for the 2016 Premier League title. Arsene Wenger, for his part, seems to suggest it’ll be about keeping this strong squad together, but that could be a harder task than it first seems.

Likely departures are well known: Tomas Rosicky, Mathieu Flamini, Lukas Podolski, Joel Campbell, Yaya Sanogo and Carl Jenkinson are all on the fringes of the squad and probably beyond redemption for various reasons. Beyond that, figures such as Theo Walcott, Wojciech Szczesny and even Santi Cazorla could surprise fans with exits.

The logic behind Walcott and Szczesny is clear, in that both have found themselves out of favour. The former is nearing the prime of his career and with no obvious way back into the team, a move could be good for both parties. For our Polish goalkeeper, time is on his side, but while I believe he has the talent and mindset to regain his place, I just wonder if impatience and some dodgy advice from (probably) his dad will get the better of him.

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The biggest upset would be Cazorla, who continues to be linked with moves back to Spain, which – from what I gathered last summer – isn’t quite the usual transfer guff it initially appeared to be. He may be the wrong side of 30 and probably keeping Aaron Ramsey or Jack Wilshere out of their long-term positions, but as Monday showed, his current form and skill-set is near irreplaceable. If we’re to seriously challenge for the title next season, keeping hold of him could be as big a signal of intent as any.

On another note, Arsenal’s one big job left this year comes in the FA Cup final, and it’s good to see some fans are getting in the mood already. That grand old song, Good Old Arsenal, is being updated and released with the intention of donating profits to the Bob Wilson-endorsed Willow Foundation. It features various big timers from the Arsenal Twitterati and seasoned north London rockers The Riders of the Night, so get in the spirit and help support a worthy cause at the same time. At any rate, it likely packs more entertainment than a Chelsea season ticket.

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