Arsenal: The curious case of Andrei Arshavin
Once a vital member of the team and now not even included in the match day squad. With Arshavin finding his feet in recent low key games, including an eye-catching performance last week against Coventry, you still have to think that it may be too late for the little Russian.
You have to wonder where it all went wrong. One minute he was a fan’s favourite with the famous four goals at Anfield, the next moment forgotten. Last year, after a season filled with half hearted attempts to run back down the left side of the pitch to win back the ball from his own error, Andrei Arshavin was shipped back to his home town and childhood club, Zenit Saint Petersberg.
Although most are still probably unaware (because let’s face it, not many of us are mad Russian league fans) Arshavin had a revitalized season, scoring three times in 11 games, a few assists, and a hell of a lot more energy.
This could be seen as the reason to why Arsene Wenger was so defiant on bringing him back. All his time spent at Zenit however was used playing behind the striker and not on the left wing as Mr Wenger prefers. And to me, this is where it all went wrong for the little man with the massive smile.
Arshavin’s Arsenal career saw him deployed down the middle, much like our new superstar Santi Cazorla. In this position, Arshavin could run at defenders while at the same time acting as the play maker for our attackers. Yet as Wenger recently joked, at Arsenal he likes “to turn all wingers into attackers and attackers into wingers” transforming the Russian into a winger. And thus began the descent. Arshavin isn’t a player with the legs to run back to cover defenders, nor the pace to sprint across the pitch on a break.
In the recent Coventry win, all of Arshavin’s highlights (including winning a penalty, a goal and an assist) came through the middle. And although I am sure that Mr Wenger notices Arshavin’s central potential, currently, the Arsenal midfield is a very crowded place. Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshire, Thomas Rosicky, just to name a few.
These are the players (albeit some coming back from injury) that are battling for that one place. Forget about the irresistible Cazorla for a minute, with Jack Wilshere returning as well as Rosicky, who had an outstanding season last year, it almost seems less and less likely that Arshavin will even be given a chance down the middle. Which leaves us to the wing. The Ox, Gervinho, Podolski, Walcott.
There is a lot of competition in this Arsenal side. Healthy competition for sure, but it is hard to believe that a player with the potential that Arshavin has, is going to stick around at a club only to play the odd cup game.
January awaits. I have no doubt that Arsene Wenger would love to keep the little Russian in this talent-filled squad. And let’s face it, Wenger would be lucky to have that kind of player for the rare 80th minute substitution. But is that the future that Arshavin sees for himself? I doubt it.
I’m positive that Arshavin loves the club but at the end of the day, I’m sure that he’s a smart enough guy to realise that his options at the Emirates are limited. Many decent clubs would love to have a man like him at the club, and many Arsenal fans including myself would be sad to see him go. Yet at the end of the day, would we really miss him?
Calling all Arsenal fans: Does Arshavin still have a future at the Emirates? Would you like to see him stay or would you get rid of him in January? Why do you think Arshavin hasn't taken the Premier League by storm? Who would you rather have in a central role, Arshavin or Ramsey? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.
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