MANCHESTER — Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal are at it again.
With five wins from their last seven matches, the Gunners are cranking into top gear at a pivotal stage of the season.
[ RELATED: Three things we learned ]
After beating Manchester City 2-0 away from home on Sunday, the Gunners ended a run of 12-straight games without a win against the top four from the previous season, as they move up to fifth in the table and are just one-point behind fourth-placed Manchester United.
Wenger’s men buried that hatchet against the big boys comfortably with a fine defensive display, as Santi Cazorla was mercurial in midfield with a goal and an assist.
“Since Cazorla plays central, he had played a lot wide, now he is at a level of his career where he can have more influence centrally,” Wenger said. “He is fantastic because he gets you out of pressure in very tight situations and he finds openings that are very interesting. He is a good example for young players. He shows you how important it is to be two-footed in the middle of the park. It is a vital quality for a midfielder today and he does that very well. On top of that that he always likes to have the ball. He passionately loves the game.”
With that dreadful run against the top teams now behind them, how much belief will this give Arsenal as they close in on the top four?
“Time will tell. What is for sure is that it increases the level of belief and confidence,” Wenger added. “We have five months in front of us that are very important in the lifespan of the team. What we make of that will decide our season. Games like that can help to do very well.”
[ RELATED: Aguero vs. Sanchez ]
One player who also shone on the day, apart from Cazorla, was Frenchman Francis Coquelin. The 23-year-old has looked assured in the holding role in recent weeks and Wenger believes the young holding midfielder, who totally nullified the threat of David Silva, is coming of age.
“I took him at the age of 16 from France and today he is 23. He has gone through some difficult periods but for me, he is a learner from his experiences,” Wenger said. “I always kept faith in him. I told him three months ago that he needed to play somewhere and he accepted to go down to Charlton [on loan] and had convincing performances. Now he has come back, I play him, and he does very well.”
Arsenal played very well on Sunday too, as they aim to keep kicking on during the second half of the season.