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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

Arsenal Star Andrey Arshavin

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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.



  1. davi

    February 27, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Quality players can adapt. Pires, ljungberg and hleb all did, but Arshavin didn’t show enough desire to do well. It’s no excuse that he wasn’t played behind the striker because he showed in his first few months that he COULD play very well on the left, but he seemed to lose a lot of his shooting power and, more importantly, his confidence/desire.
    I’m tired of hearing all these excuses being made for him. Rooney still plays well when they put him out wide, Van persie has shown throughout his time at arsenal and for his country that he will play well in any position across the attack, when given a short run of games, but Arshavin couldn’t do it. If he couldn’t show the desire to really make a difference on the wing, why on earth would you consider building your team around the man? I’d much rather we did that for Hleb than Arshavin, because at least he worked hard and made things happen. I’d rather we did that for Rosicky, Ramsey or Benayoun now, for the same reason.
    What we really needed was an experienced, reliable player who would come in and lead the way for the younger players. Arshavin couldn’t do that because he doesn’t have the personality to do it. I wouldn’t say good riddence, because he seems like a nice man who really lost his way during his time here, but he just didn’t do enough. After the first 6 months, his performances weren’t really much better than Walcott’s at 16/17/18. Arsh just kept on giving the ball away cheaply, showed defensive naivity and his workrate was not good enough. Arsenal demands players who can motivate themselves and push the others on to win games, as Van Persie does. Obviously not every player in the squad lives up to that, but not every players in the squad has the age and experience of Arshavin. No more excuses, just good bye and good luck. I sincerely hope he can rediscover his old form back at Zenit and can start playing with a smile again, but I’m glad he won’t be there on the bench anymore, tempting Wenger to throw him on when we need a goal, because it’s just not fair on some of the other players, like rosicky, benayoun and oxlade, who we know will always do their best for the team.

    • davi

      February 27, 2012 at 7:41 pm

      And I’d rather that Vela or someone was given a chance to play on the wing ahead of him at the start of the season. He’s another talented player, but with similar problems to arshavin. The differences are that no-one’s ever really taken a chance on him, and he has the time on his side to improve.


    February 27, 2012 at 8:16 pm


    • Andre

      February 27, 2012 at 9:11 pm

      hahah love how you want to loan out the player teams like Barcelona and Spain say is the only player they are scared of. count the assists, you will eat your words very soon, folly supporter Walcot is arsenal through and through and let me guess you would want some Spaniard or Brazilian who doesn’t give a shit playing for this club. i for one have faith in the young lad and will support through form and out of form

    • the don

      February 27, 2012 at 10:03 pm

      we as a club do have some thick fans.

      walcott has been one of our best players
      okay his not been great every week
      but who has in our team ?
      ( apart from v perise )

      walcott is our second top scorer and his got the most assist this season.

      how people can not see that is unbelivable.

  3. nikkogunners

    February 27, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    I think with his departure and Injuries for Ramsey and Rosicky, things do not look rosy at the Emirates stadium , but i refuse to accept that.However i feel it is better we get used to the idea he is not longer going to be with us. Here is the solution to the immediate problem. Play We start with the bet back four we can assemble and play Arteta in the DM role. He is more disciplined in that role that Song. Play Centre 3 of Song, Gervinho and the Ox with free role to run in both wings. Play Walcott in the Hole (he deserves a try in centre forward after those to goals and assist, and RVP upfront. We could surprise people with this team!

    • Andre

      February 27, 2012 at 9:18 pm

      yes Arteta is disciplined in that role but he does not have the legs he used to compared to Song and when he is there he shows absolutely no creativity, did you see him against Sunderland, we were 2 goals down and he didnt play a single pass forward just left right and backwards and when it was forward it was a 40yard cross field ball that took half an hour to get there. i see what your saying but song is solid i think he just need someone to keep him in his place.

      • the don

        February 27, 2012 at 10:05 pm

        arteta was poor at sunderland
        so was all the team.

        but arteta is a solid player
        his not world class
        but he dose a good job in the middle
        his been good for us this season.

        • Andre

          February 27, 2012 at 10:59 pm

          he dosent pass the ball forward and doesn’t track so should not be playing DM. im fine with him playing CM or even better AM but when wilshire and Ramsay are both fit he should take his place on the bench.

  4. Andre

    February 27, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    i for one am completely fine with him going back to Zenit but i want it just to be a loan!!! if he gets his form back it wouldnt be exactly a bad thing to have him back in an Arsenal shirt, i mean have s you seen him when he is playing in form??????? SURELY ONE OF THE BEST IN THE WORLD. quality style!!

  5. sam

    February 27, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    typical arsenal fans! obsessed with rubbish players. how about you loan chamberlain to zenith and take back your russian pele. get over it dude, he’s gone and next season miyaichi will be back and possibly another signing. its football, people move on if they fail to settle. the mistake will be for him to come back.

    • MrGooner

      February 27, 2012 at 9:38 pm

      But hes a player with undoubted quality, we will miss you our russian beast 🙁

      • the don

        February 27, 2012 at 10:06 pm

        But hes a player with undoubted quality…???

        really ?
        what has he done with his quality for the past 40 games. ?

        get an odd goal and assist here and there his been below avrage.

  6. owolabi

    February 27, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    i will probably miss u , wish u gud luck @zenith

  7. Nick from Portugal

    February 27, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    Great player, poorly used but probably difficult to handle too. The brilliant performance of Rosisky and the good performance of benayoun at the weekend may not be entirely unconnected to the loss of our Russian friend. Now injury problems for Saturday…….where is Diaby?????

  8. WillyG

    February 28, 2012 at 2:08 am

    The we loaned out Arshavin and the team performed fantastic against Spurs. Coincedence??? Don’t think so…

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