Arsenal’s Spanish midfielder Santi Cazorla has called for his teammates to turn in a quality performance in the Champions League clash against Galatasaray. The Gunners currently sit second in their group ahead of the last game of the group stages, and will have to win their game while hoping that Dortmund lose to Anderlecht to have any chance of topping the group.
As such, and with qualification already secured, many are calling this fixture a dead rubber. Even manager Arsene Wenger seems willing to take it a bit lightly, naming several second string players and youngsters in the squad. But Cazorla, who has been in great form for the Gunners lately, says that Arsenal need to win decisively today and lay down a marker for the latter stages of the competiton.
We have had a mixed campaign in Europe so far, losing to Dortmund in Germany and winning against Anderlecht courtesy of a late, late comeback. Home form has been better, with wins against both Galatasaray and Dortmund; but the 3-3 draw against Belgian side Anderlecht in a game which we were leading 3-0 derailed our hopes of topping the group.
Santi spoke of that game and more in this exclusive interview to FourFourTwo:
The Anderlecht game was a nightmare for us. To be leading them 3-0 and then allowing them to come back from three goals down in your own home is unacceptable.
It’s something inexplicable that happened to us and we have to get over it, we have to show everyone that we can react well and in the right way, even though it looks like we’ll be second in the group instead of first.
We know it’s worse because we’re going to have to play opponents who finished first and are at a really high level, like in the last few seasons when we met Bayern Munich. But ultimately, if you want to win the Champions League or have ambitions to win it you have to play the best.
We’d obviously prefer to play a weaker rival, but if we end up against a first class opponent then we have to get on with it and try to beat them if we want to achieve something big. Qualifying is the main thing.
Clear message from the midfielder, and he seems pumped for the game today. Let’s hope his teammates are as excited as he is and we manage to win at one of the most hostile stadiums in Europe. However, the chances of Dortmund losing are extremely slim; despite their League woes they still have more than enough quality to see off the challenge of Anderlecht and we need to prepare for the reality that we will finish second in the group yet again.
And that is a worrying prospect. Finishing second means that we will be drawn against a group topper, and those include teams like Real Madrid, Chelsea, Atletico and, of course, Bayern Munich. Based on our current form, we have no chance whatsoever of beating any of these teams and unless the team steps it up several gears over the next couple of months we may be facing yet another early exit from the competition. Not only Santi, but the team as a whole needs to step up and deliver.
As an Arsenal fan though, you learn to look on the bright side. Sanchez doesn’t play today, so at least he cannot be injured. Ah, the small joys of life.