Robert Pires: Arsenal have really struggled without this player

The Arsenal legend believes Arsene Wenger has paid a heavy price for Santi Cazorla's enforced absence through injury

Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla Photo: The Sport Review

Robert Pires believes Santi Cazorla’s absence has contributed to Arsenal’s disappointing Premier League season.

The Gunners are in sixth place in the Premier League table as Arsene Wenger’s men look to sneak a top-four finish and a Champions League spot.

Arsenal were unconvincing 1-0 winners against defending champions Leicester City at The Emirates on Wednesday night after Robert Huth’s own goal.

The north London side crashed out of the Champions League back in March after a humiliating 10-2 loss to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich in the last 16.

The Gunners lost four goals in five games including losses to top-four rivals Chelsea and Liverpool to end their title challenge.

However, Arsenal have been without Cazorla since a 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur in the north London derby at The Emirates back in November.

The Spain international is sidelined with a troublesome ankle problem and won’t make a return to competitive action before the end of the 2016-17 campaign.

Former Arsenal legened Pires believes Wenger has paid a heavy price for Cazorla’s enforced absence throughout the current campaign.

“Santi Cazorla. His loss really affected this team and I’m sure if we’d have had Santi playing, we’d be much higher up,” Pires told bwin.

“He’s such a difficult player to replace because technically, he’s one of the best players in the Premier League. I know Santi very well, and played with him at Villarreal and I remember saying ‘Who is this guy!?’ – he is an exceptionally talented footballer.

“He’s the metronome, he dictates play and can play with both feet, which keeps defenders honest. The most important thing is that he can control the ball and the tempo of the team and when you’re in a tough situation, he is calm and can keep the team playing.”

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