‘Give him time!’ – Santi Cazorla sends message to Arsenal over Mikel Arteta ahead of Europa League semi-final

Santi Cazorla sends message to Arsenal over Mikel Arteta ahead of Europa League
The former Gunner has divided loyalties having played for Villarreal too (Picture: Getty Images)

Santi Cazorla is convinced Mikel Arteta is the right manager to get Arsenal back to their best regardless of what happens in Thursday’s Europa League semi-final second leg against Villarreal.

The Gunners lost 2-1 in Spain last week though did grab a potentially vital away goal after being reduced to 10 men and they know their season hinges on the return fixture in north London, with winning the tournament now their only realistic chance of qualifying for European football next season.

Cazorla has divided loyalties for the semi-final, having started his professional career at Villarreal and returning to the club when he left Arsenal in 2018.

Santi Cazorla of Villarreal looks on during the Liga match between Villarreal CF and Levante UD
Cazorla had three different spells with Villarreal across his career (Picture: Getty)

The Spaniard feels both sides are capable of progressing – and hopes whoever does so goes on to win the Europa League – and has given his full support to old teammate Arteta despite Arsenal often struggling this season and only sitting in ninth place in the Premier League table.

Speaking to Uefa ahead of Thursday’s clash, Cazorla said: ‘I think he’s the right man to take the club forward.

‘It’s difficult to follow a period like Arsene Wenger’s – the club has to adapt to another kind of football, another philosophy, another vision of football.

‘He’s got a clear idea of how he wants his team to play, they’re in the semi-finals and they did well in the FA Cup [last season].

‘They have been pretty inconsistent but you’ve got to give him time and I think they’re convinced that Mikel can get a lot out of the squad and achieve big things.

‘I’m great friends with him and whatever good happens to him and the club I’d be happy for them because I’m a Gunner.’

On the importance of Arsenal going all the way in the Europa League this season, Cazorla continued: ‘They have to keep showing that Arsenal are a big team in Europe. They want to show that they’re at the same level as many other big clubs in the world and in order to do this they’ve got to win European trophies.’

Villareal CF v Arsenal - UEFA Europa League Semi Final Leg One
Arsenal managed to grab an away goal from the penalty spot in Spain (Picture: Getty)

With allegiances to both clubs, Cazorla cannot pick a winner, adding: ‘My feelings for both clubs are so huge that it’s difficult for me to choose one or the other. I would have liked for this tie to be the final as I’d know at least the winner would lift the trophy.

‘The feelings are going to be very beautiful but I’ll feel very bad for the team that gets knocked out. The only thing I ask for is that the team that reaches the final wins it. I hope I can be there – I’d love to watch the Europa League final live with either team in it and, most of all, to witness the joy of the winner.’

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