• Premier League

Wenger: No reliance on Cazorla

Kevin Palmer
October 23, 2012
Santi Cazorla has impressed since joining Arsenal in the summer © Getty Images

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has rejected suggestions that the Gunners are relying too heavily on summer signing Santi Cazorla to win them matches.

In the aftermath of his side's shock 1-0 defeat at Norwich on Saturday, Wenger said Cazorla is "very tough to play against" if the rest of his star names are working in tandem with the Spanish playmaker.

He hit back at suggestions that the Londoners' Carrow Road failure, which left them ten points behind leaders Chelsea, was a sign that this campaign is on course to follow the painful script of the last seven trophyless seasons.

"It is not as simple as just stopping Cazorla and stopping Arsenal," Wenger said. "Santi was a little flat at the weekend, and that was the same for many of the team, but I believe if the team play well then he is very difficult to stop playing.

"Saturday's result was a big setback for us, but I can still justify the ambition I have in this team. There is still so much more to come from us and we have to get over the Norwich defeat and focus on the next game.

"That is the only way to deal with it. What we said about Saturday will stay in the dressing room, and there is no point in talking about that now. We are determined to bounce back [at home to Schalke] in the Champions League.

"We know that, since winning away in Montpellier in our first group game, we have a big chance to progress by winning our home games."

Wenger, who was joined at a pre-Schalke media briefing by midfielder Aaron Ramsey, urged his players to "express our talent and enjoy what we are trying to do".

Ramsey said Arsenal's players were "still hurting" after the Norwich setback and owed the Gunners fans a performance on Wednesday. "We felt as if we were growing with confidence with each game and that made the defeat even worse," he said.

"We have to get that out of our system as quickly as possible. We just weren't good enough to win at Norwich. In any job, if you do something wrong you want to try and make up for it, and we are no different."

Wenger warned that Huub Stevens and his Schalke side would pose a potent threat to his wounded Arsenal troops, saying: "Defensive focus will be extremely important for us, because Schalke will be dangerous on the on the counter-attack.

"Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Jefferson Farfan and Ibrahim Affelay will be dangerous on the break, and we have to make sure we retain our discipline.

"German sides always have a great professional attitude. They usually have a great team attitude and that is important at the top level.

"Talent is not enough. When I worked in Japan, I could see the good attitude of the players there and this is why I am not surprised to see many Japanese players doing well in Germany. They appreciate a strong work ethic."

Wenger confirmed that returning midfielder Jack Wilshere would not be considered for selection against Schalke but is in contention for a first team return in Saturday's Premier League game against QPR.

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