I just posted this up on my new blog, and I feel that this is a major issue right now. My blog:http://theclassygunner.wordpress.com/
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It didn’t take long for Andrey Arshavin to set the Premier League alight. He amazed the majority of Arsenal fans with series of proficient performances, producing a mix of great personality on and off pitch, and displaying tremendous skill on the ball. Andrey, as so many people had said, was literally the real deal and looked worth his value and the enduring month that we spent trying to lure him to North London.
As I had said, it didn’t take him long to settle down at Arsenal, and his effectiveness (scoring six and assisting nine) along with his tremendous general game quickly made him a “fans favourite” at Arsenal, in our much dour 08/09 season. Performances such as the 4-1 victory over Blackburn and his four goal masterclass at Anfield fills me with memoirs of how excellent the Russian was, and may I say; he was absolutely pivotal in the club getting into the Champions League for the following 09/10 season.
However, his honeymoon period was soon to be over. Andrey was still effective in the way in which he managed to be produce 3rd, 2nd and 1st assists, yet he was showing signs of disinterest and laziness. It was purely noticeable that the Russian lacked work ethic, and his shortage of tracking back not only effected his own form, but the form of Gael Clichy, who plays behind the attacker. Gael had struggled for cover, and also looked average and bedraggled with the presence of Arshavin in the team. This was not what was expected by a player of such talent.
Not many Arsenal fans had seen him play week in, week out at Zenit St Petersburg , but from what we had seen from his many video’s we almost knew right away that he was tailor made to play for a team like Arsenal. He was direct, incisive and had a special edge about him. His display in the UEFA Cup final against Rangers, in 2008, and in the Euro 2008 tournament only confirmed our thoughts. Perhaps Russia’s inability to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa brought disruptions to his life, hence his form on the pitch.
Arshavin seemed to gain a few pounds, and his stamina began to look criminal for a footballer – he was knackered by 20 minutes, and when he made a dribble he was left panting immediately with his hands balanced on his things. Any fan of the Russian could say that he has always remained as an effective player who can generate a moments of brilliance from nothing, but he is far too inconsistent for any fan to gain that judgement.
Against Blackburn in August, Andrey had an undisputably poor game, but he managed to come up with the winner minutes into the second half, and another example is when he looked abysmal for the first half-hour against Wigan some time last week, but scored a great goal and assisted Nicklas Bendtner to make it 2-1 before half-time. His best game arguably came at Villa Park in November where he ran the home side ragged all afternoon and deserved an enormous amount of credit for a display of such aura and provision.
But those sensational displays haven’t come often enough, and now he finds himself on the bench with Theo Walcott starting to find some real consistency and confidence, not to mention Samir Nasri who has been our best player this season. Don’t get me wrong, Andrey is still a player capable of producing the goods, but if you look at our tremendous pressing against City and Chelsea, the winger just wouldn't be able to run continuously for 90 minutes let alone 20 minutes.
It would be best for him, and the club if he were used as a “squad player” until he stands up and recognises that he isn’t pulling his weight (pun unintended) and starts to reproduce his form that brought him to Arsenal. Let’s face it, he isn’t getting younger, and I would be surprised if we kept hold of him in the summer with him regressing in this manner, and particularly being linked with Eden Hazard of Lille who is a remarkable talent. Having said that, it would be lovely to see him recapture his old self, but I can’t see that happening, much to my annoyance.