- Premier League
Cazorla crucial in sealing Monreal deal
Arsenal new boy Nacho Monreal has revealed the persuasive words of Gunners midfielder Santi Cazorla calmed his concerns before he sealed his transfer deadline day move from Malaga to north London.
Monreal, who could be thrust straight into Arsene Wenger's creaking defence for Saturday's Premier League clash with Stoke, has admitted he is excited to be reunited with his former Malaga team-mate Cazorla at Arsenal, as he predicts the good times are about to roll for Wenger's men.
"I spoke to Santi, we had a long conversation about things," Monreal told the Arsenal website. "I asked how things were here and he only had very positive things to say.
"He said that the club was a massive club, the people are great and it's really just a big family.
"As there is a familiar face in Santi, I am a lot calmer about things. Having shared a dressing room with someone who has already made this journey is a good feeling. Now it's my turn and I can't wait to follow in his footsteps.
"To be honest, when I was given the option to come here I went for it because it's a massive club and I didn't even have to think about it. Of course, there are Spanish players here and a lot of youngsters, which this club is known to attract. I'm delighted to be able to train and play with those guys and I hope my stay here will be the best it possibly can.
"I've watched loads of Arsenal games and there have been legends that have played for this club. I know everything I can from watching the television and from what Santi has told me in this relatively short period of time. I am sure we can be successful this season and I am really looking forward to the challenge."
Meanwhile, Arsenal boss Wenger believes his players have been 'deeply affected' by the negative publicity that has surrounded them this season, but he remains convinced he has assembled a squad capable of securing another top four finish in the Premier League.
Wenger's failure to make some big name signings in the January transfer window came as a major blow to Arsenal fans who had been encouraged by the manager's suggestion that he would be investing in fresh talent last month.
Yet Wenger insists his squad already boasts enough quality to cling onto their top four status for another year and uses statistics to highlight the areas where his troops need to improve in the final third of the season.
"The team has certainly been deeply affected by all the negativity and also by the fact they are highly focused to do well," he said. "They want to do well, but sometimes that can be a bit inhibitive. I believe it's important that you just purely focus on the technical side of your game and forget about who you play.
"Somebody told me that we are second in the league on our second half of games, but 13th in the first half. That can only be psychological because you do not become a good football player in the second half and bad in the first half."
Wenger's €10m deadline day swoop for Spanish defender Monreal was his only purchase during the January window and, yet he remains convinced that he has a playing pool capable of climbing back into the top four before the final ball is kicked this season.
When asked if he was confident of another top four finish, he replied with a resounding 'yes' and suggested he has the financial firepower at his disposal to make changes to his squad at the end of this season if the need arises.
"At the moment it's very difficult to say what we will do in the summer because from now on until the summer is a long period, and it depends as well how well we do until the summer," added Wenger.