Andrey Arshavin – A Mistake To Let Him Go?
Following the news that Andrey Arshavin has joined Zenit St Petersburg on loan, we look at whether the decision to let him go was a correct one by Arsene Wenger
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132 appearances. 30 goals. 35 assists. The Russian captain Andrey Arshavin, who lit up Euro 2008 created or scored about every 2 games for Arsenal during his short 3 year spell. Signed by Arsene Wenger in January 2009, Arshavin literally kept Arsenal in the top four the season he joined with 6 goals and 7 assists in just 12 Premier League appearances for the North London club, instantly becoming a fans’ favourite.
2009 really was the year of the meerkat and by the end of it, he was named the ‘English Premier League’s most effective player.’ The former accolade was one fully deserved by a player who Arsene Wenger believed would end up in the same bracket as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. It was a Herculeun task for a player who doesn’t have the same mindset as either of those players, he needs someone to motivate him and encourage him, and as a senior player the onus was on him to give that kind of motivation to younger players, an attribute he doesn’t have.
In some ways the Russian seemed too sophisticated for the Premier League, he was capable of producing the sublime on occassion and produced some of the finest moments for the club in recent memory (the four goals at Anfield and the winner against Barcelona spring to mind). He certainly was a big game player however his blasé attitude meant that he didn’t want to track back and help out, when he did it usually had disastrous consequences (Man United at home for example).
Arshavin was and still is a luxury player, however the difference between the Arshavin of 2009 and the Arshavin of 2012 is that the anterior was on a high and in the form of his life after becoming Arsenal’s record transfer. The latter has lost his desire to beat players for fun, preferring to pass instead. Despite this, he only has a 75% pass accuracy, and averages just 1 key pass and 0.6 dribbles a game. If you compare this with someone like Chamberain who at just 18 has an 83% pass accuracy, with an average of 1.5 key passes and 2.7 dribbles a game, it makes grim reading for the number 23.
Despite this, Arshavin was probably one of the most talented players at the club, even as a backup his departure means that Arsenal lack someone who can come onto the pitch and possibly change the game, the 2-1 win against Sunderland in which he delivered a beautiful cross for Thierry Henry is an example. However in many people’s eyes, Wenger made the wrong decision in bringing him on for a player who was Arsenal’s biggest threat, Oxlade-Chamberlain.
When Arshavin came on, Arsenal lost the directness the Ox brings, however the reaction to the substitution by the same fan’s who started the infamous chant “he’s 5 foot 4, he’s 5 foot 4”, was uncalled for as far as I’m concerned and it meant that the pressure was too high for a player who was clearly affected by boos from the home fans, as any player would be.
I’m surprised Wenger didn’t decide to play Arshavin just off Van Persie after the deperature of Cesc Fabregas in the summer, almost like the role Dennis Bergkamp used to play in. It would certainly suit him more and allow him to have more freedom and allowance to run at the defence, and cut open the opposition with his incisive through balls. More importantly, it would probably bring his confidence back and give him a new lease of life.
I can see the reasons why Wenger decided not to deploy the Russian in this role, Ramsey works harder by pressing the other team and adds more defensively, but it was this role for the national team which made the world sit up and pay attention to Arshavin. It would’ve meant that Alex Song’s attacking instincts would have to be curbed, but I’m sure most fans would’ve allowed for that.
Building a side around a player with an abundance of talent would have seemed the correct thing to do, but Wenger disagreed and off on loan he went back home to Russia.
Hopefully Andrey can push on and do well at his hometown club in St Petersburg, to remind him of why he loves football in the first place. A solid half season would perhaps, silence the critics and mean that Arsene Wenger has to seriously consider about bringing him back to Arsenal, and I for one, do not want to lose a player with an artistic verve comparable to few.