With five Arsenal first teamers in their final 12 months of their contracts, we here at allArsenal.com are having a look at the players on the list and the status of their negotiations or lack there of. Next up is Andrey Arshavin.
Arsenal Fact File:
Name: Andrey Arshavin
Born: May 29, 1981, St. Petersburg, Union of Soviet Socialistic Republics (now Russia)
Position: Attacking midfielder, wide midfielder, winger, secondary striker
Previous Club(s): Smena St. Petersburg, Zenit St. Petersburg
Joined Arsenal: January 1, 2009
Total Appearances: 97+44
Total Goals: 31
Total Assists: 46
2013 Expiring contracts: Andrey Arshavin [Part 3]
There are players that you watch and think: “He would be perfect addition to ___________________ (club name).” For instance, ever since Fernando Hierro retired and Claude Makelele left Real Madrid for Chelsea, every central defender and defensive midfielder that gave a decent performance and had impressive physical abilities were linked with Real Madrid as “perfect addition” for them. Walter Samuel and Thomas Gravesen were supposed to be solutions for Real Madrid’s problems in defence but it turned out, especially in Gravesen’s case, that most of the perfect matches are perfect only in theory. If that wasn’t the case, nobody would have a chance to laugh at the (theoretically logical) idea that Kenny Dalglish had when he bought Downing in order to use Carroll’s aerial domination. We all know how that one ended.
The story about Andrey Arshavin in Arsenal had certain elements of the aforementioned stories. After 2007-08 in which we were within inches of winning the Premier League, we needed reinforcements to our attacking lines since Eduardo’s injury was horrible. There were players in Europe that drew attention with excellent performances, especially at EURO 2008. That tournament gave us a chance to enjoy the performances of the Russian national team, encouraged by Zenit St. Petersburg’s triumph in the UEFA Cup. Despite the fact he missed the two opening matches because of a suspension, Andrey Arshavin was the best player of the dominating Russian team.
His return inspired Guus Hiddink’s team to beat Sweden in the last match of the Group Stage and advance to the quarter-finals. They then confronted Holland, a team that destroyed their competition in the Group of Death (Italy 3:0, France 4:1, Romania 2:0), and in the best match of the tournament Russia won 3-1 after extra-times. Arshavin produced a man-of-the-match-performance again, he was unplayable and unstoppable. He was drilling through the Holland defense like it was made of paper for 120 minutes. He was rewarded with a goal and an assist. Despite Russia lost the next match against Spain (0:3), it was obvious Arshavin would move to a new club in 2008-09. His skills, technique and low center of gravity recommended him for either Arsenal or Barcelona.
But the match made in Heaven had to wait for a while. Zenit was reluctant to sell their best player (who helped them winning the European Supercup against FAnchester United) before they ended their Champions’ League campaign so Arshavin had to wait until January 2009 to join Arsenal. He was cup-tied for the Champions’ League since he played for Zenit in the Group Stage and couldn’t help us in the semi-finals against FAnchester United. Arshavin’s first half-season in Arsenal was excellent – he didn’t taste defeat whenever he was selected and he produced one of the best performances ever in the Premiership at Anfield. Liverpool was probably the best English team in 2008-09 but they lost the title race to FAnchester United and Arshavin’s four goals performance at played some part in that. That match ended 4-4 but that night was all about Arshavin who single-handedly won one point for us. He picked up the Player of the Month award in April 2009.
In his first full season Arshavin reached double-digets for goals scored but Arsenal’s trophy-room didn’t need adjustment for any new silverware yet again. Arshavin’s goal against FAnchester United was a real beauty but it was shaded by the fact we lost after unfortunate Diaby’s own goal.
Arshavin was played on the left side of the attack in 2010-11 and he was more into assisting than scoring. His form was getting worse as January arrived but he saved his best for the March 8. In the spectacular match against Barcelona he scored the winning goal and gave us hope we will beat “the best team of all time” on aggreggate.
Last season, we were hit by departures of our creative forces Nasri and Fabregas while Wilshere got injured. Arshavin, as one of the senior members of the team, was supposed to take on the burden of creation alongside with Rosicky. Both players had a disappointing first half of the season but Arshavin can be excused for being played as a left winger where he was isolated for most of the time because we had problems with our left full-back position. Despite that, I have to say that Arshavin didn’t look like he had any desire to bring success to Arsenal and I was stunned when I saw him smiling while FAnchester United was thrashing us. He did score the only goal against Swansea in our first victory and assisted for a winner to Thierry Henry against Sunderland but when he returned to Zenit on loan, we started to win games in an exciting manner. He found his form in Zenit and won the Russian league again. He was prepared for EURO 2012 where he made three assists but Russia failed to progress from the easiest group.
This season Arshavin is mostly appearing from the bench. He gave two excellent performances in the League Cup gaining five assists in two matches but the true reason why I believe he can be useful to us are his cameos against QPR (he created the chance out of which Arteta scored), FAnchester United (he assisted to Cazorla) and Fulham (he managed to get a penalty that Arteta missed). In his 20-and-something minutes in those three matches he showed that he still has depth and ability to create problems for opponents. Cazorla is currently untouchable in attacking midfielder-role but Arshavin can be his cover when the Spaniard is jaded or injured.
During his Arsenal career Arshavin was linked with other clubs, especially with Barcelona. These days it seems that Reading is the most interested club in Arshavin which is a symbolic example of how Arshavin’s reputation declined. The Royals saw Arshavin’s quality in the League Cup match in which the Russian assisted three times and given that he is an experienced player who is already settled in England, they would like to sign him in order to preserve their Premiership-status.
This one could make any jury sweat since Arshavin went from hero to zero during his Arsenal-career. Personally, if I was in charge last season, Arshavin would’ve been handed a one-way-ticket from the Emirates. However, given that our attack needs every creative spark in the team possible and that Arshavin proved that he can still be an excellent player, I would like to see him given a one-year-contract by Arsenal, only a one-year-contract because he is already 31.
The question is: would Arshavin accept it? He used to be a captain of the Russian national team but now Fabio Capello hasn’t even called him up. His status at the Emirates has to do something with Capello’s reluctance to call on Arshavin so the Russian might be interested in going somewhere where he can get first-team football in order to restore his international status again. Maybe his departure for some fee in January would be the best for both Arsenal and Arshavin. Some matches aren’t as good as they seem to be at the first look but that doesn’t mean Arsenal and Arshavin can’t stay friends.