Arsene Wenger has heaped praise on midfield maestro Santi Cazorla after comparing the Spaniard's impact on the Arsenal team to that of club legend Robert Pires.
The Gunners boss has been delighted with the 30-year-old's contribution at the Emirates Stadium this season, and suggested that his presence formed part of the reason why he did not pursue a deal to re-sign Cesc Fabregas last summer.
Cazorla has played a pivotal role since being shifted inside to a more central position and Wenger believes his decision to turn down a reunion with his former captain has been vindicated.
"We lost Cesc Fabregas and Santi was one of those players who could bring us that technical quality," Wenger was quoted saying by The Express. "His career at Arsenal is in two stages.
"The first was when I played him wide, he was like a midfielder playing wide and contributing a bit like Robert Pires did as a wide player.
"He transformed completely when I moved him central and it looks to me that centrally is where he is really at ease and brings a lot to the team.
"Why? Because he's a team player, he works very hard and he also gives us that continuity, that fluidity.
"He can also hit a long ball - the long ball he hit for [Aaron] Ramsey for the second goal [at Hull City] was with his left foot and it was absolutely delightful to watch."
However, Cazorla was unable to prevent Arsenal from suffering a disappointing 1-0 defeat against Swansea City last night, making it the first time since April 2011 that they've failed to score at home in two consecutive games following last weekend's goalless draw with champions Chelsea.
The Gunners now face a fight to secure the Premier League runner-up spot ahead of Manchester City, who have a three-point advantage and far superior goal difference, meaning victory in their game in hand won't guarantee second place.
Podolski future uncertain
Lukas Podolski has confirmed that he has been talking to other clubs, with his long-term future at Arsenal still up in the air.
The Germany international has just over 12 months to run on his existing contract at the Emirates Stadium, but having spent the second half of 2014/15 on loan at Inter Milan it remains to be seen whether he has any future in north London.
Milner to Arsenal?
Former Arsenal striker Alan Smith has revealed that he expects his old club to sign Manchester City midfielder James Milner this summer.
The Sky Sports pundit believes the 29-year-old's free transfer move to the Emirates Stadium will be completed at the end of the season.
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