Arsenal can win the title now they are more ruthless, says midfielder
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Arsenal’s two-goal hero Santi Cazorla believes the team have developed a ruthless streak that makes them genuine title contenders this season.
The Gunners midfielder’s double strike in the space of five minutes against Fulham enabled his side to collect maximum points after they had failed to find a way through for almost an hour.
That pattern echoed recent performances against Newcastle and Cardiff, with Arsenal eventually coming good after indifferent first-half displays to claim maximum points.
And Cazorla, who doubled his goal tally for the campaign with that brace, feels the Gunners have displayed a far more steely edge than they did in his debut season.
“This season, we’re much more consistent, much more solid, especially when we’re on top of a game,” said the Spaniard.
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“Last season, there were matches when we would go 2-0 up and could let it escape from us. That makes it practically impossible to win a title, and this season that has changed for the team.
“Maybe at the start of the season nobody put us up as high as Manchester City or Chelsea, because of the signings they made and it’s true, they’re big favourites for the title as well.
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“But it’s ultimately demonstrated on the pitch. Right now, Arsenal are above them and our objective is to keep fighting with them.
“This season, the level has risen with the arrival of Mesut [Ozil], with the level being displayed for example by Aaron [Ramsey] and Mathieu Flamini who is doing great things.
“That means the team has a much higher level, that it has more options in every game for the manager.”
Saturday’s victory maintained Arsenal’s one-point advantage over their closest challengers Manchester City, who beat Cardiff 4-2, and the pair – along with third-placed Chelsea – will soon have to turn their attentions to the Champions League again.
The Gunners face a rematch of last season’s final-16 tie against eventual winners Bayern Munich next month and Cazorla expects the European tie to bring a different kind of pressure from the weekly demands of Premier League football.
“Every year the pressure has to be at the maximum,” added the 29-year-old.
“For a team like Arsenal, that is striving for trophies, and has gone a fair few years without winning any, the aspirations we should have are to win as many trophies as possible and challenge the best teams.
“Right now, in the Premier League, we’re top because, up until now, we’ve been the best team and in the Champions League we have a very difficult match against Bayern Munich.
“The Champions League, you know, is hugely complicated – a lot of aspects influence both matches, but we have a lot of hope.
“In the Premier League, I think it’s about consistency – who has been the best throughout the season and, right now, we’re at a very good level.”