IBTimes UK

Nacho Monreal claims Arsenal have missed the services of Santi Cazorla in their midfield and their dip in form in his absence suggests how crucial the Spain international is for the Gunners.

The 31-year-old has been sidelined since November with an ankle injury and is still on the sidelines. He is expected to return to action later this month as Arsene Wenger's side are only alive in the Premier League.

Arsenal were eliminated by Barcelona in the Champions League and their hope of winning the third consecutive FA Cup trophy was crushed by Watford. Their chances of winning the title also look slim after they failed to win three out of their last five league matches.

Monreal has hailed Cazorla and claims his compatriot is the "perfect player for Arsenal." The left-back believes the midfielder is a most technically-gifted player at the Emirates, ahead of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.

"Given the way we play, Santi is the perfect player for us because he loves receiving the ball, he brings our centre-backs into the game and really helps us to bring the ball out," Monreal told Arsenal official's website.

"He's probably one of the most technically-gifted players we have in the team and obviously he brings a lot to the side."

"Everybody really likes him and we're aware that his way of playing and the amount of assists and goals he pitches in with are very important for us."

"Obviously he's had this injury that's kept him out for about five months and the team feels that. When you lose an important player the team pays for it."

Arsenal face their cross town rivals West Ham United in the next league tie. With seven games remaining in the season, they sit third in the table with 58 points, 11 points behind league leaders Leicester City, who have played one game more than the Gunners.