Arshavin the Enigma



After Andrey Arshavin had completed his first half-season at Arsenal, few could imagine that in just three years he would be regarded as one of the most frustrating players ever to ply their trade at the club.

He is undoubtedly capable of brilliance, we know this from that day at Anfield, the shot against Man United, the cross for a certain Thierry Henry to poach the winner against Sunderland, and of course the coolness and composure to slot home against Barcelona. Unfortunately these moments have been too few and far between.

Since January he has been experiencing life back at his old club, Zenit St Petersburg. Media reports indicate that he’s returning to his form of old, whilst his performance during Euro 2012 simply gave more credence to this claim. The 31-year-old Russian only played three games, yet topped the assists chart alongside David Silva, Mesut Ozil and Steven Gerrard.

The question, as always, is “can he still do it for Arsenal?”

It’s a difficult one. Even when his popularity was declining in the 2010/2011 season, the only Arsenal player with more assists than the little Russian was Cesc Fabregas. In fact he managed both more goals and assists in that season, than Theo Walcott managed in the 2011/2012 campaign just passed.

So he’s certainly still got the ability. However as a fan you like to see your players putting in a proper shift week in week out. That is one of the reasons players like Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky have earned so much praise over the season, they work incredibly hard for the team. Even Walcott could be seen up and down the flanks, providing defensive cover when needed. The problem is, that’s not Arshavin’s strong point.

His unwillingness to track back simply doesn’t fit into the Arsenal team which has developed over the course of the past season. Plus there’s the issue of where to play him. Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud, Walcott and Gervinho are all currently above him in the pecking order. Arshavin’s favourite position as a creative force in the centre is also unlikely to be available to him. As we saw after Arteta got injured for the final stretch, we need two box-to-box centre midfielders, the sort of which Jack Wilshere is a perfect example of. With his return, and with it a greater creative threat, it is unlikely Arshavin could look forward to any regular first team football, which is exactly what he needs.

It would seem the most likely eventuality for him is a return back home to Zenit, whether via another loan or by transfer. Either way Arsenal shouldn’t expect much financial return on their £15m.

Nick Rains



2 Responses to Arshavin the Enigma

  1. davi July 7, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

    His decline in form seemed to coincide with that goal he scored against liverpool the season that started after he signed (not the 4-4), in which he kicked into the ground and injured himself. Before that he was striking the ball with such immense power, keepers just couldn't stop it, as was evident in that goal, but since then, he's been a bit more shy of shooting and was gradually declining as a player. When he was scoring goals like that, nobody really cared how much he tracked back, and I'm sure we would have taken steps to accomodate him, afterall, you can get away with 2 players not having much defensive responsibility, but since his form dropped, he's not been worthy of that accomodation. He's no Ronaldo or Messi, but at his best, we're probably talking about a player who's on par with Robben in effectiveness, so a player worth having, particulalry as he's nowhere near as selfish as Robben.
    That said, I'm weary about accepting him back into the Arsenal side. I was convinced he would be a poor signing when we bought him, and he almost proved me wrong, but ultimately it comes down to his lack of desire to win, rather he seeminlgy just wants to be part of a winning side, if that makes sense. He doesn't have the personality to lead a side to victory, like Henry, Pires, Vieira and the rest had, instead he needs to be led to victory. We've never won anything with players like that taking a major role in the side.
    On a side note, the decisions made by RVP and Nasri led me to the same conclusion, so I have no problem with them being moved on.

  2. July 7, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    I dunno you look at arshavin vela gervinho walcott park and even rosicky and you feel that with consistency you would have 6 players who could really compete for the 3 spaces behind the centre forward add to that podolski chamberlain and ryo and those 9 FULL internationals should really be propelling arsenal to the top. with song arteta wilshire diaby ramsey lansbury coquelin and frimpong competing for the 2 holding midfield roles u have to wonder why we are not winning things. up front we would have rvp giroud chamakh and bendtner competing for 1 place again 4 FULL internationals and all of them goalscorers.

    i still maintain that it is our depth in defence that lacks quality sagna koscielny vermaelen are of the highest order. however in mertesacker djourou jenkinson gibbs and santos you feel less comfortable. when u drop down to the likes of squillaci and a bunch of teenagers mostly playing out of position that is where in my opinion our problems lie. i honestly believe that if wenger replaced squillaci djourou and santos with top class full backs and another centre back we would have 2 defences worthy of champions. i wouldnt sell santos i would try him on the left wing until ryo os ready to join the squad.

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