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Wenger salutes Santi as double strike sinks Fulham

Santi Cazorla of Arsenal (left) celebrates with Olivier Giroud (right) as he scores their first goal against Fulham. Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images Santi Cazorla of Arsenal (left) celebrates with Olivier Giroud (right) as he scores their first goal against Fulham. Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

Saturday, January 18, 2014
8:57 PM

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hailed the special talents of Santi Cazorla after the Spain international struck twice in the second half as Fulham were beaten 2-0 to keep the Gunners top of the Barclays Premier League.

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With free-scoring Manchester City romping to another big home win as Cardiff were the latest side put to the sword, there was little margin for error from Wenger’s men, who hold a slender one-point lead.

After a slow first half, the Gunners finally sparked into life as two quick goals from diminutive Spaniard Cazorla, each dispatched with an instinctive finish - secured what was in the end a comfortable victory.

“When you play in your opponents’ half, in the final third, he is one of the players who can create something special, either through his pass or through his finishing,” said Wenger.

“He is two-footed, and that makes him very dangerous.”

Wenger added: “Cazorla was out for a long time at the start of the season and had some injury problems.

“After that he had an ankle problem and only recently, since mid-December, has he come back to his level.”

Wenger felt his side deserved credit for showing patience to finally breaking down what was a determined defensive display from the Cottagers, who are fighting for their top-flight survival.

He said: “We were in control for the 90 minutes, but we were a bit one-paced in the first half with our passing. In the second half, when we got up a gear we scored the goals.

“We had a few more chances, but overall in games against teams who fight not to go down, they are of course very difficult. Sometimes it is a question of patience.”

Wenger feels Arsenal are well set for what looks to be the most exciting championship run in of recent years.

“We have played 22 games and have 51 points. If you compare that to any other season you will see that it is one of the best, if not the best ever, so let’s just continue,” the French coach said.

“We have a good solidarity in the group and we rotate a bit and sometimes great players are on the bench.

“You [media] want me to buy more players, but if they sit on the bench you ask me why.”

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