Arsenal v Everton (16:00 BST)
- How to follow:
- Listen on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC local radio; text commentary on the BBC Sport website
Arsenal lacked belief under Arsene Wenger but will have “a great season” under new manager Unai Emery, says former midfielder Santi Cazorla.
Cazorla left the Gunners in the summer to return to Villarreal and is playing again after long-term injury problems.
“We needed to believe in ourselves more,” he told Football Focus.
“To believe that we were capable of competing with the big sides in the Premier League and not just settling for third or fourth.”
The 33-year-old Spaniard won two FA Cups in six seasons with Arsenal but the closest he came to a title was a second-placed finish in 2015-16, when Wenger’s side finished 10 points adrift of champions Leicester.
Arsenal finished fifth in 2016-17 and sixth last season. They have started 2018-18 with three wins and two defeats from their opening five league games and host Everton on Sunday at 16:00 BST.
- Mina to start? Arsenal v Everton preview
- A meticulous risk? McNulty on Emery
- 11 ops and 668 days out – Cazorla is back
Cazorla rejected the notion that Arsenal were in “a comfort zone” under former manager Wenger – who was replaced after 23 years in charge by Emery in May – but feels that they could have come closer to success in the Premier League.
“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,” he said.
“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 has never played under Emery, but spoke to the former Sevilla and Paris St-Germain manager this summer before he took charge at the Emirates.
Emery asked Cazorla for his insight on Arsenal’s medical set-up, nutrition and also what else he may need to adapt to the Premier League.
“I think it’s a club that can improve quite a few things,” Cazorla said.
“I gave him 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 and 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.”
- ^ after long-term injury problems. (www.bbc.co.uk)
- ^ Mina to start? Arsenal v Everton preview (www.bbc.co.uk)
- ^ A meticulous risk? McNulty on Emery (www.bbc.co.uk)
- ^ 11 ops and 668 days out – Cazorla is back (www.bbc.co.uk)
- ^ who was replaced (www.bbc.co.uk)