MANCHESTER, United Kingdom (AFP) -Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said that his side had established a benchmark for the rest of their season after recording an impressive 2-0 victory at Manchester City.
Santi Cazorla scored from the penalty spot and set up Olivier Giroud for a 67th-minute header on Sunday as Arsenal registered a first away win against a team defending the Premier League title since May 2002.
As well as leaving City five points adrift of leaders Chelsea in the title race, the result took Arsenal to within a point of the Champions League places and Wenger called on his players to build on their display.
Asked if it could prove a significant victory, the Frenchman told his post-match press conference: “Time will tell. What is for sure is that it increases the level of belief and confidence.
“The five months in front of us are very important in the lifespan of the team. What you make of that will of course decide our season. Games like that can help (you) to do very well.”
Cazorla’s performance earned warm praise from both his team-mates and his manager, with Aaron Ramsey describing him as “different class” and Wenger branding the 30-year-old Spaniard “superb”.
“Since Cazorla plays centrally — he has played a lot wide — I think now he’s at a level of his career where centrally he can have more influence,” said Wenger, whose team visit Brighton and Hove Albion in the FA Cup this weekend.
“He is fantastic because he gets you out of pressure in very tight situations and finds openings that are very interesting.
“He’s a good example for young players. He shows as well how important it is to be two-footed in the middle of the park.
I think it’s a vital quality for a midfielder today.
“On top of that, he always likes to have the ball. He passionately loves the game.”
Arsenal were dealt some humiliating away defeats last season, losing 6-3 at City, 5-1 at Liverpool and 6-0 at Chelsea in Wenger’s 1,000th game at the club, but they defended with discipline and resilience on Sunday.