“You can’t lose against Stoke if you aspire to be the next Premier League champions”.
This is one of the comments made by Santi Cazorla questioning Arsenal’s winning mentality and it does seem he has been doing his research.
In Stoke’s five Premier League seasons, four champions have done the double over the Potters and the only point they have mustered against a league winner was a draw with Manchester City.
Therefore, on this basis, Chelsea can be ruled out of the title race this season after their 3-2 defeat at the Britannia, while Liverpool must be backed at 7/4 after beating Stoke home and away.
However, back to Cazorla’s criticism of Arsenal and maybe he has to take a larger portion of the blame.
Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher had an interesting debate on a recent instalment of Monday Night Football, questioning why playmakers and support strikers are not judged more on their goals input.
Four goals in 26 Premier League starts this season is far from an acceptable return for one of Arsenal’s most attacking players and the return of fellow playmaker Mesut Ozil, who also averages worse than one goal in every five starts, is hardly any better.
Given that Arsenal play with a lone striker, more goals from their most attacking midfielders is an obvious area of improvement for both the remainder of the current campaign and the whole of the next.
It is 2/1 that Cazorla scores in the 90 minutes in Arsenal’s next outing, when facing Wigan at Wembley in the FA Cup semi finals.
Alternatively, Arsene Wenger could delve into the transfer market in the summer to look for a goal-scoring midfielder and these three names should be on his whiteboard.
With Lukas Podolski seemingly not entirely trusted by Wenger, another left forward is sure to be on their radar and Reus has scored 18 goals in just 30 starts this season.
Reus also tops the Dortmund statistics this season for average shots per game and the number of key passes he supplies for teammates.
Despite being deployed more centrally by Sevilla, Rakitic has arguably been one of the players of the La Liga season, reaching double figures for both goals and assists.
Swansea have already benefited immensely from raiding Rayo Vallecano for an attacking midfielder and following in the footsteps of Michu is Alberto Bueno.
In his eight starts in attack, the 26-year-old hasn’t netted, but this record is better than one in every two games when moving back into an attacking midfield role, helping him sit as the mid-table outfits top scorer.