Santi Cazorla has told Arsenal to learn from last year's Champions League capitulation against Monaco ahead of the trip to Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday 16 September for their first engagement of this campaign. The Croatian champions have not lost a game since 2014, embarking on a 41-match undefeated run, but have never qualified from the CL group stage in four attempts.
Arsenal are expected to qualify for the knockout stages, alongside Bayern Munich, in a group that also includes Greek outfit. Cazorla, however, has told IBTimes UK that Arsenal should not take anything for granted, pointing to how they were also expected to beat Monaco last season before the French side knocked them out on the away goals rule (3-3 on aggregate).
"The Champions League is a competition that we really love. We want to go as far as possible but we have to go step by step. We can not put more pressure than we already have. We hope to have a good start in Zagreb and then go little by little," the Spaniard said to IBTimes UK. "We have the example last year against Monaco. Many said that we were the favourites to go through but they showed us that in the Champions League if you are not at your best you're out because in this competition you face the best teams in Europe. This season we have to go step by step."
The North London side enter the game on the back of a 2-0 victory against Stoke City, thanks to the goals of Theo Walcott and substitute Olivier Giroud. Arsene Wenger has rotated both players in a striking role this season after failing to sign a proven goalscorer during the summer transfer window.
Cazorla says both players are responding well to the challenge of providing for Arsenal, but refused to say who suits his passing style more. "The manager is alternating both according to the rivals and they are responding with goals. The important thing is that whoever play feel confident and score goals because both are very important for the team," he said.
Cazorla also said he is happier than ever in London, despite summer reports in his homeland suggesting he wanted to return to Spain to play at Atletico Madrid. Cazorla claimed he has never considered leaving Arsenal, as evidenced by him signing a new two-year deal.
"I never said I wanted to return to Spain," he noted. "Those things just came from the press. I don't understand why they publish that story because I have always been happy at the club. I feel very valued here and the club value dme even more with a new contract. I never considered leaving Arsenal."