Santi Cazorla believes Arsenal have found the consistency they have lacked in previous seasons and can now fight for the Premier League crown. The Spaniard told IBTimes UK that the team who "fails the least" will win the title, amid a tough battle where Arsenal, both Manchester teams, Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs all have a claim.
The Gunners moved level on points with leaders Manchester City at the weekend, securing their sixth Premier League win in a row with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Swansea City. Cazorla said it is still too soon to speak about Arsenal's title credentials, but admits there are reasons to believe the Gunners can achieve their target this season.
"We have started the season in a good way. We are having a good run but it is a very long season. We have to go step by step. It is clear that we want to fight [for the Premier League title]. We have always said we needed to give a step forward. We have started well and we are being more consistent. That's what we lacked in previous seasons," the Spaniard said to IBTimes UK.
Cazorla pointed out that the recent scrapping wins over Burnley and Swansea are the kind of games that used to see the Gunners drop points in previous campaigns. Arsenal only beat the Clarets thanks to Laurent Koscielny's controversial goal in injury time, and secured three points over the Welsh side despite playing with 10 men during the last 20 minutes of the game following Granit Xhaka's red card.
"We have taken a step forward in games like [the victory over] Swansea to get the three points. In previous years we dropped points at home in this kind of game and at the end of the season it cost us the title," Cazorla added. "There is a long way to go but it is true that that we have set that goal [fighting for the Premier League]. But the table is very tight. Manchester City, Chelsea, United... all will be there this season. Liverpool and Tottenham are especially strong. All the big ones will be fighting so I think the one that fails the least will take the Premier League title."
Arsene Wenger's unwillingness to splash the cash in the transfer market has also been seen as an issue for Arsenal's title hopes. Cazorla, however, believes the summer arrivals of Shkodran Mustafi, Xhaka and his friend Lucas Perez will make a big difference in favour of the Gunners.
"Mustafi has brought a lot to the team. Even though he is still very young he already has big experience and has formed a good partnerships with Koscielny. They already understand each other very well. That solidness in defence give the rest of the team an assurance to play with more freedom," Cazorla said following the impressive start for the German international in the Premier League.
Lucas's adaptation to the Emirates Stadium has not been as smooth though. The Spaniard scored a brace in the EFL Cup tie against Nottingham Forest but has since barely played due to the good form of Alexis Sanchez in the number nine role. Yet, Cazorla is convinced that he will have chances to prove his worth during the season and will eventually be a hit in the Premier League.
"Lucas is not playing regularly but he remains optimistic. He is aware that we are in a positive dynamic and that the coach is practically repeating the same starting eleven week in week out because we are having good results. But he is working well in the training session, he scored two goals in the EFL Cup and he has to be patience because I am sure he will give us a lot through the season.