Andrey Arshavin Turning Back the Clock

When Arsene Wenger surprisingly decided to spend $15 million in 2009, most Gooners the world over were excited.  You don’t have to be a fan of AFC, or even of the BPL, to know how stingy the Frenchman can be.  Who were they getting for what was a record transfer for the club?

Andrei Arshavin was a highly qualified and greatly decorated midfielder from Russia, where he played for Zenit.  During his tenure he won many accolades including the Russian Footballer of the Year.  AFC fans had great reason to celebrate the transer.

The Russian had a great start to his life at the Emirates, in one match at Anfield, scored four goals.  He wore the #23 shirt, formally held by Sol Campbell, very well.  But over the past few seasons, he has fallen out of favour in Wenger’s eyes.  He still had flashes of his former self, none more memorable than when he came on against Barca in last year’s Champions League match where he one-touched a screamer, sending the home-town fans into a frenzy.  It might have been considered the goal of the year – at least to me.

Unfortunately, these flashes have been too few and far between to earn him regular time.  Perhaps a low-point occurred in a home match with Manchester United, when Wenger brought him on to replace Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, sending the fans at the Emirates into a chorus of “boos” (followed by a chorus of booze).

Rumours of Arshavin’s departure were all over the Internet, subways and in little notes written in water-closets.  The writing literally was on the walls.  The Gunners made a deal for a loan with former club, Zenit, where Andrei finished this season. With his future with Arsenal in severe jeopardy, and whispers that time has caught up with him, Arshavin looked to the European stage as he captained his Russian side for the Euros, 2012.

On the opening day, Arshavin dazzled.  It’s really that simple.  If you watched the match you will have noted he was easily one of the best players on the pitch.  He played his usual attacking mid role, drifting inside from the left, from a 4-3-2-1 formation.  Doing so, he exposed the Czech defending, as they couldn’t seem to track his well-timed runs.  Repeatedly, the Czechs allowed Kerzhakov to find open space in wide areas, while Arshavin and Dzagoev exposed the middle.

Arshavin was outstanding for Russia, looking like his former self.   To watch him, it was easy to see the difference in his form compared with his last two seasons at Arsenal.  He looked like that 27 year-old again.

Andrei Arshavin can play… just maybe not for Arsenal.

Until tomorrow, lads.