I belong to that group of individuals who always forget something while packing for a holiday. This time around it was my laptop charger! Since this was a trip to a remote-ish area it resulted in four days of peace and fun in complete oblivion.
That I was able to catch up with the news in half an hour after my return just goes to show Wenger was right when he said football clubs will run out of money. Before I start talking about Arshavin let me comment on some of the noteworthy events of the last few days.
Theo was left out of the England squad. Good news, I say. I don’t want to get into the merits of the decision or the thoughts of the decision maker. From an Arsenal point of view this could have a positive or negative impact and it will depend on how Walcott reacts to this. If he sulks and demands more game time next season so he can improve, then it’s bad for us and for him. If he puts his head down and works hard in training and forces his way into the starting line up on merit, it will help him and the club.
I strongly believe that players like Ronaldo and Fabregas have reached phenomenal levels because of their attitude, work ethic, and the desire to be the best. Too many players start off with great talents but only a few reach the top. Theo can still make it but he needs to get his bearings right. To begin with he can use the summer to work on his final ball, shooting and running with the ball. Most of it is down to individual training that he can do on his own. The club will surely do all they can to help him if he expresses his desire to train. If he’d been to South Africa he’d not have had a holiday, so why should he take one now?
In other news, Barca made an official bid for Fabregas and it was rejected. Nothing unexpected or out of the ordinary there except the statement published by Arsenal. It’s not in keeping with the style of the club but I found the change to be positive as it did put some pressure on the Catalans. It provides a lot of ammunition for the English press to support one of their clubs if they choose to do so. I doubt they will.
The Spaniards are shameless and will continue their disrespect campaign based on a divide and conquer strategy. The only way they can get their man is if Fabregas actually does an Ashley Cole or worse. I doubt he will.
The most interesting bit, however, was the departure of another Spaniard. Benitez left Liverpool and it’s just another nail in their coffin. Rafa was the perfect example of a manager who spent a lot and got it wrong more often than he succeeded. Liverpool have spent, they have won trophies in the last five years, and now they are in serious trouble. Any manager who comes in will need funds to revamp the squad (they don’t have the funds) and it could easily lead to a negative spiral that drags the club into obscurity.
I think this is a good time for Wenger to make a move for Reina. Liverpool obviously need the money, Reina was close to Benitez and must not be happy with his departure, and there is no doubt about his class.
Let’s move on from the tedium of the transfer window and focus on the individual analysis series with a discussion on Arshavin’s season.
I had great expectations from the Russian mainly based on his performances in the second half of the previous season. And when compared to the expectations I thought the diminutive attacker was a disappointing flop.
In general, a return of ten goals and two assists in the league is not that bad. But when you consider that these numbers belong to a man who was signed for big money, has a big name, is experienced, and was supposed to be a star, then it’s not an impressive tally by any stretch.
Arshavin’s goals and assists came at a staggering 188 min per goal or assist. Even the much maligned Eduardo did better with 4 goals and 6 assists at 112 min! Malouda had 12 goals and 9 assists at 110 min and Giggs had 5 goals and 13 assists at 100 min. Clearly, Arshavin should have done much better.
Interestingly, Arshavin has done much better in Europe with 2 goals and 5 assists in 8 appearances. I think it’s down to the fact that the smaller clubs in Europe are not as physical or well organized defensively as those in the Premier League.
Those who want to defend him point to the fact that he was played out of position. I find it difficult to buy that. Messi, Ronaldo, Rooney, and the other top players don’t complain about their position on the pitch. I consider it a qualifying condition for greatness – a top player should be able to perform as their manager asks and do it with aplomb.
As I’ve done with RvP and Bendtner, it will be better to look at the Russian’s strengths and areas of improvement.
- Difficult to stop when he gets space in the final third
- Can shoot with both feet and is lethal even from distance
- Quite fast when he does sprint
- Can turn most defenders
- Good vision
- Intelligent Runs
- Has the X factor
Arshavin Areas of Improvement
- Work rate (includes support in defence, pressing higher up the field, number of runs into the box, and chasing the ball after losing possession)
- Playing in tight spaces (Is it a coincidence that he struggles when the opposition sits back in numbers?)
- Consistency in shooting (must convert the sitters)
- Should have a lot more assists
Another complaint against him is that he does most of his talking off the pitch! I do believe that he can do better with his communication but most of it is distorted by the media as they take advantage of the loss in translation. By now he should have learnt how the media works and should know better than giving blunt and honest opinions because when it comes to the media it’s not about the truth or honest analysis but merely a word game that sells papers.
The way I see it, Arshavin underestimated the Premiership. Talent alone is not enough to be successful in this league and the Russian isn’t really the type who’d fight for each and every ball all season long.
I don’t see him at Arsenal beyond next season if we don’t see a drastic improvement.