Arsenal star Santi Cazorla “technically perfect” - Arsene Wenger in London Colney ahead of FA Cup match

Arsenal team-mates celebrating: Photo courtesy of @Alexis_Sanchez/Twitter

Arsenal team-mates celebrating: Photo courtesy of @Alexis_Sanchez/Twitter - Credit: @Alexis_Sanchez

Polish “starlet” Krystian Bielik will not make his debut for Arsenal this weekend, the Gunners’ boss Arsene Wenger has confirmed.

At today’s (Thursday) media preview of Sunday’s FA Cup match against Brighton and Hove Albion, Wenger confirmed that the teen, who he sees as a defensive midfielder, was busy regaining his fitness after a winter break.

He told reporters gathered at the club’s training grounds in London Colney: “He has just turned 17; he is not fit - because they had a winter break in Poland that is quite long, so he is at the start of getting back to full fitness.

“He [will not be] ready before three weeks.”

In team news ahead of this weekend’s clash, Wenger said there are, “some uncertainties about Hector Bellerin and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

“They will have tests today and Bellerin should be available, but Chamberlain, I’m not sure.”

Chamberlain is suffering a groin injury while Bellerin has an ankle problem.

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Danny Welbeck is still out for two more games and is not in full training yet.

It is “likely” that Mesut Ozil will start.

Asked about ongoing negotiations for Gabriel Paulista of Villarreal, Wenger said, “the talks are progressing quite well”.

While he would not be drawn on a possible sum, Wenger confirmed Arsenal was, “ready to pay the price we think right for a good player, no matter what the price is.”


Wenger was quizzed about a Deloitte report out today that says that the 20 Premier League clubs are now among the top 40 wealthiest clubs in the world.

Appearing unsurprised, Wenger replied there were several reasons for such success, including, “that the world’s richest people invest in the Premier League - which is not the case in the other leagues.

“The quality and the audience of the Premier League all over the world is big.

“The rest of the world invests in football in Europe and at the moment only in England. Will that last? I’m not completely sure.”

Wenger paid tribute to the part paid by television in such success, adding, “And it is down to television; the fact that television in England pays the money that makes us richer.”

Reflecting upon last Sunday’s 2-0 win in the Premier League game against Manchester City, he praised the team’s “controlled performance”.


When asked about Santi Cazorla’s outstanding performance on the field, Wenger said: “He is a very talented football player, but since he has started playing centre I think he has taken another dimension, because on the flank he was more exposed to things where he is not at his best.

“But in the middle of the park he gets you out of situations when you are under pressure. He is always technically perfect.

“In recent games, he has been in the best form of his career. Santi is every day, happy to be with the ball, and go out there.”

“He is the perfect example for every young player to follow.”

Cazorla has been a big hit with Arsenal fans. Nine days ago @FresnoGooners, feeling spiritual, tweeted: “Santi Cazorla: the giver of life, the bearer of joy, the conduit of all things right in the world.”

And another Arsenal fan just wondered whether when Cazorla took his boots off, he might just be “hiding a pair of hooves”.


Looking ahead to Sunday’s game, Wenger said: “We know it will be another big challenge to come home with a positive result.

Asked about playing away in the FA Cup, he added: “We remember Brighton two years ago … it was a very difficult game against a team who was on the way up, they were fighting at the top level …you needed to dig deep to get out with a positive result.”

A recent article in the Brighton & Hove Independent said that it was expected the match against the current FA Cup holders could attract a record crowd to the Amex, for the FA Cup Fourth Round match.

On the Seagulls’ website, Brighton and Hove Albion chief executive Paul Barber - who like manager Chris Hughton formerly worked at the Gunners’ north London rivals Spurs - said he was looking forward to the clash.

He added: “I’m really excited about it and at Spurs we spent many years battling against Arsenal … I’m particularly pleased for our fans who deserve a big, plum home draw like this.

“We’ve beaten Newcastle twice there [at Amex], beaten Sunderland and against Arsenal, a couple of years ago, we gave them a really good run for their money.”

• Brighton and Hove Albion V Arsenal, Amex Stadium, Sunday January 25, 4pm