Villarreal midfielder Santi Cazorla revealed that Arsenal’s failure to win the Premier League title since 2004 was down to a lack of belief under Arsene Wenger.
The 33-year-old spent six years at the Emirates after joining from Malaga in 2012 and went on to make 180 appearances in all competitions. He won two FA Cups and two Community Shields but never came close to the league crown.
Since Cazorla joined Arsenal, the London outfit haven’t amassed more than 79 points in a 38-game season. Their best finish was second-place in 2015/16, but they were 10 points adrift of the champions.
Arsenal have been criticised in the past for focusing more on finishing in the top-four of the Premier League to book their place in the Champions League the following season rather than look to win the title, and Cazorla believes such a lack of ambition held them back.
He told BBC Sport Football Focus: “We needed to believe in ourselves more, 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.”
Wenger ended his 22-year reign at Arsenal in the summer and ex-Paris Saint-Germain manager Unai Emery replaced him. The Gunners are currently sixth in the Premier League with 12 points from six games, having won four consecutive matches (West Ham, Cardiff City, Newcastle United and Everton).
Stats from Transfermarkt.