Thoughts On Arshavin’s Form And Situation At Arsenal

Sometime during the last week there was this article on the Arsenal website with a few comments from Benayoun. The Israeli skipper said that he can understand the reasons for not getting regular starts and was happy to contribute whenever he got a chance.

They say you don’t change a winning team and we are on a good run so it is very difficult to get into the team.

The only thing I can do is to wait for any chance I get – it doesn’t matter if it is 15 minutes or I get to start. I have to prove myself any chance I get and I am sure I can do it.

There isn’t anything particularly striking about these words and one would expect any intelligent, mature footballer to voice such a sentiment. But they reminded me of other words I’d read a month or so ago and it provided a very interesting contrast.

Some of you might remember this in-depth interview (in Russian) given by Arshavin in early November. It was loosely covered in the media and by some blogs. The usual out of context twist was about Wenger being stubborn and stuff like that. Others took a light-hearted view. I want to talk about a different portion of that interview. Here is the excerpt I am interested in (with thanks to Google translate),

Q: What a man feels, whose team plays “Chelsea” with a score of 5-3, and he sits on the bench?

A: That game at least it was fun to watch. And when the score 3-0, you let out 10 minutes prior to the end and you just want to play myself because everyone else already see out … Not the most pleasant sensations.

It’s not difficult to see Arshavin is not particularly happy about coming on late in the games. He seems to be saying that playing the final few minutes is not enjoyable as the teammates are often just going through the motions (when the result is in the bag).

The contrast in the thoughts of the two players could not be starker. One wants to prove himself every time he gets on the pitch while the other doesn’t really appreciate coming on for the final few minutes.

If I am not mistaken, the current typecasting of these two Gunners is that Arshavin is lazy and can’t be arsed whereas Benayoun is a hardworking player who gives his all for the club. The opinions quoted above will probably do nothing more than strengthen these stereotypes if I stop at this juncture.

But I want to delve deeper. Partly due to the fact that I like Arshavin and he seems like one of the most misunderstood players. And in part because it provides an opportunity to discuss how personalities affect performances and the issues they must cause for managers.

I have always seen the Russian talisman as a very intelligent person whose honesty is at times misconstrued. In the same interview, in fact as a continuation of that discussion on playing as a substitute, Arshavin had this to say,

Q: When staying in the reserve, the success of partners rejoice?

A: Hmm … Before this season, remained something not too often. But I can remember, “Zenit” The lawyer.That’s when it was with this in order. Each knew the other possibility, no one had demanded from the partners of the impossible. The main thing was to appear as one. It does not matter who scores, just to win.In fact, now and in the national team since. Similar biorhythms.

Clearly the same as someone on the field better get one, someone else. There are those who in the locker room after the game thinks: “I brought victory.” But there are others. For them the main thing: “We won.” In his youth, often occurs first thought, with experience comes the second.

The translation software doesn’t quite hit the target there but we can make some guesses. I believe he is saying this is a new situation for him but previous experience at Zenit under Advocaat (The lawyer!) and with the national side has taught him that cohesiveness in the squad is most important – “The main thing was to appear as one”.

The second paragraph is even more interesting and shows his maturity that has come with experience. The translation might not be very good but “I brought victory” and “We won” are two clearly distinct ways of thinking. Clearly, Arshavin knows the second approach is more important. So it would be safe to say he understands why he is on the bench and that’s the reason we don’t see him coming out in the media talking against the manager.

Just as words, when not seen in their entirety or the right context, can lead to unjustified opinions, I believe a player’s performance on the pitch can also be misread without the right background.

I would not argue with anyone who’d say there are many instances where the Russian appears to be slacking on the pitch and doesn’t really contribute enough in defence. However, I am not convinced that is enough to jump to the conclusion that he is lazy and/or doesn’t care.

Every interview that I have heard or read suggests to me that Arshavin is a very creative person who wants to produce and share beautiful, magical moments on the football pitch. But such is the nature of the sport that any player, no matter how talented, cannot really thrive unless he gets a) regular games, and b) the right system and teammates. The performances of Messi for Barcelona and Argentina should be an obvious example. There are many others.

So in order to analyze a player’s performance one has to look at the kind of system he is playing in, the quality of teammates, and such related factors. Are they suited to bring the best out of him?

If we just go back to the start of last season, Arshavin was having a major impact. Nasri and Walcott were scoring a lot of goals but the Russian was picking up a number of assists and was the creative hub of the team in the absence of Cesc and Van Persie. Believe it or not, the mercurial Russian had 10 goals and 18 assists in all competitions last season, which bettered the Goals + Assists totals of Nasri, Cesc, and Walcott and was just one behind the 29 (22+7) that Van Persie managed. That’s not to say he was better than all the others, but merely to highlight the kind of contribution he can make.

That team was set up to give the Russian his creative freedom with players alongside who could thrive on the chances he created.

Sometime last winter Andrei lost a bit of form and that led to a combination of Nasri and Walcott on the flanks. That team managed a strong run of results forcing the Russian on the bench for long periods. That meant he rarely got a chance to recover his form and when he did get chances it was often with the second string where the players were not really at the same level. For a player with his talents and personality, that isn’t the ideal way to regain his mojo.

The last game against Olympiacos provides a good example of what can happen when a relatively disjointed unit goes out to play. It might surprise you to know that Arshavin covered the most distance in that game. That certainly does not sit well with the “lazy” theory. But those who have seen the game will argue he was largely conspicuous by his absence. So why are the stats giving such a different account of the game that most fans saw?

I think the answer lies in the Russian’s game style. He makes a lot of early runs, keeps on getting into spaces between the lines, and is rarely static when off the ball. This adds to the yardage over the whole game but is often not noticed because most eyes are on the ball and the surrounding areas. Now if the other players can’t read those runs or find them with their passes, a player making such movements would go widely unnoticed. That way he would cover a lot of ground but will not have much to show for it.

Is that good or bad? Would you rather have another player who can do the donkey work and help out the defence or have someone who can produce a bit magic? ? It’s hard to say definitively but given the style that Wenger prefers, Le Boss will need players who have vision and flair.

Some might think Arsene is a fool in persisting with an aging player who is past his best. It might be the case. But I think the manager sees a few things that are hard to find in players – a) Has inherent talent to make things happen, b) Is professional enough to accept the fact that he cannot start regularly, c) Works hard (in his own way) when he does get the chance even if it appears that the player doesn’t do enough.

Look around and you will see that few players do well when they are on the bench for long periods and for the big games. Anelka, Drogba, and Torres have all struggled at some stage or the other when they haven’t got starts at Chelsea. Berbatov has a great start last season but hasn’t really contributed at the same level once his star declined. Dzeko wasn’t making any impact for City when playing in Tevez’s shadow. He might struggle again later in the season if he is kept on the bench for most of the big games. Van der Vaart and Sneijder were not doing that well at Madrid but subsequently excelled for their new teams when put in the spotlight. There is no dearth of examples when it comes to talented players struggling to perform when they don’t get regular starts with the strongest team.

Obviously a man with Wenger’s experience and depth of knowledge would understand this. He’d also know that anyone else coming in is also as likely to struggle on the bench as the Russian is and that the only way out of a rut is by playing through it. He has to give Arshavin as many minutes as possible and hope that the work being done in training can bring the spark back. I believe that explains why he keeps playing Arshavin when many fans and pundits have already written him off.

Players like Benayoun are good, hard-working individuals who have their fair share of talents. But even a guy like Benitez, under whom the Israeli arguably had his best years in the Premiership, thought of Benayoun as a very good impact player from the bench rather than a starter. So it would seem the deadline day loan from Chelsea was to add some strength to the bench more than anything else. In that light it’s understandable that Wenger wants to get more out of Arshavin rather than Benayoun.

Don’t get me wrong, the point is not to berate the Israeli who puts in an honest shift whenever he gets on, nor is it to defend the Russian who isn’t always busting his guts. The idea is to explore the various dynamics, on and off the pitch, that affect a player’s performance. And with that background, to see whether Wenger’s penchant for picking Arshavin is justified or not. There is no way to definitively argue that AA23 is not past his peak. It could be that Wenger is flogging a dead horse. But when you consider all the factors discussed here, would you rather trust Wenger’s instincts about a player he watches everyday or do you want to go with the hastily formed opinions based on limited evidence that seem stronger than they are simply because they are repeated ad nauseam?

A better system of rotating players is an alternative that deserves a separate, detailed discussion. As does the tactical switch of putting Arshavin in the hole. In a way these two are also linked. Will try to cover them, hopefully sooner rather than later.

60 Responses to Thoughts On Arshavin’s Form And Situation At Arsenal

  1. feygooner says:

    Great post. I’ve always thought that the popular perception of Arshavin as “lazy” is lazy in itself.

    I think Arshavin will get his run in the team when Gervinho goes off to the ACN, or maybe a couple of weeks before that to make sure that he doesn’t spend time adjusting, depending on the fixture list.

  2. George says:

    The answer to your book of a question is simple. Arshavin only turns up when it suits him, and we have 19 year old Ox who looks and plays the part waiting to take his spot full time. BennyOnions is on loan and we will not spend a penny to buy him for next season.

  3. Adeniji abdullahi,NIGERIA says:

    Dis analysis is awesome,gud job desi,keep them comin pls

  4. addy says:

    You’re getting better and better with every post, which i thought wasn’t possible, considering you were always great.
    As for arshavin, I think having santos out injured might just be the thing he needs. With vermaelen at left-back, his defensive duties reduce considerably, and we might see the magical arshavin of euro 2008.
    Unless, of course, he’s sold in january. Though that does seem unlikely.

  5. shrek says:

    Arshavin in the hole would mean Ramsey would have to sit out. Lets assume we buy Mario Goetze & sell Arshavin . With Wilshere returning , assuming Goetze plays in the hole ,then Wilshere would have to be accommodated. He will have to fight it out with Ramsey and Arteta for the 2nd midfield spot or vice versa.Having a lot of players is very good but its a curse as well.Look at Man City. They have the same problem of too many players.

    • WafflingWenger says:

      I don’t see Goetze playing in the hole IF he arrives. He doesn’t usually play there for Dortmund, but drifts inside from a wider position on the right (sort of the reverse of what Nasri did at Arsenal last year). Arsenal’s (and indeed most top team’s) modern interpretation of the ‘hole’ is much different to the one you’re talking about anyway (Ramsey operates from deeper). These days the false 9 or inverted wingers drift in to temporarily occupy this creative ‘hole’ position in a much more fluid and dynamic way. It’s very rare for a single player to permanently occupy it because to do so places the player in direct opposition to the holding midfielder making him much easier to stifle/mark and prevents others from drifting in and occupying it.

  6. bambang subentley says:

    hope AFC or wenger knows your blog.. just like le grove…

  7. Bradster says:

    I see Wenger selling Arshavin if he finds another left winger, which looks likely to be Goetze.
    I doubt Wenger will break his over 30 policy so I see Rosicky and Arshavin leaving January or in the summer.

  8. Mohamed Zubairu says:

    Given the number of wingers waiting in the wings now, I do not think there is much need to keep Arshavin. He may have loads of talents, but the fact that things MUST go his way before he does what he ought to do does not bode well for the club. I do not think that any argument can rid him of the lazy tag. If supreme talents like Messi work hard even on defensive duties, then Arshavin has no excuse. I think it will be better for the club to allow the Ox and Miyaichi chance to get into the team at the expense of Arshavin.

  9. Aussie Jack says:

    The sooner we go for a `rotation squad` the better not only to rest players but to give others game time and retain their interest.

    When comparing Asharvin and Beneyoun it `s important to remember their grass roots, one is Russian and the other Israeli (Jewish). Their attitudes are very different although their intentions may be the same. As far as the game is concerned I`d rather put my money on the Israeli, he`s much better value, like his countrymen he`ll never quit.

    • Rani Ghaziri says:

      Mate take your religious rhetoric elsewhere! this is a football blog and a top quality one at that!

      Surely you must think you are the chosen one by belittling a Russian upbringing!

      • Aussie Jack says:

        Sorry if I offended, didn`t mean to and I`m certainly not belittling Russian upbringing. Being non-religious myself I don`t read too much into which God a man prays to, we`re talking about attitudes related to football and your up bringing does have a bearing on your attitude. As for being `the chosen one` I`m not Islamic either, or is that a forbidden word in Britain now.

      • Zgunner says:

        This article is about Arshavin and Benayoun. What difference does it make what culture they’re from?

        What’s with the cultural stereotyping?
        Hasn’t there ever been a great football player from countries associated to being LAZY?

        South Americans are often dubbed lazy….

        Is Messi lazy? Was Ronaldo of old lazy? Maradona? Pele?

        Are there NO LAZY JEWS????????

    • richie says:

      Well said Rani G! Who cares where a man comes from? No man can chose his parents or in which country they decide he should be born in. Its not where a man comes from or where his parents were born that matters. Its where he’s going and what he does that counts! I would have thought an Aussie would’ve known that more than most! After all if we are to be judged on who our ancesters are or were most Aussie’s would pass “Go” and end up in jail (To use monopoly terms) as Jack seems intent on using “silly money” racist bigoted terms.

      • WafflingWenger says:

        Come on guys, the racial/religious slurs are definitely not necessary – I come to this blog to avoid this kind of ‘commentary’. The ignorance on the part of both Aussie Jack & richie is cringe worthy, particularly as an Australian.

        @ richie
        Actually richie, not that it’s particularly relevant but most Australians are not ‘convicts’ or even the descendants of convicts but 2nd or 3rd (or more) generation immigrants. Our two great influxes in population occurred predominately from Britain in the late 19th century gold rush & then due to the post WW2 immigration policy which saw predominantly Europeans (but also Asians) immigrate to Australia. As a result Australia transformed from a very insulated white society to an extremely multicultural one. It’s probably also worth noting that Australians are quite proud of their ‘convict’ heritage though & that one of our great heroes was a murdering, thieving bushranger called Ned Kelly. I’d leave the monopoly terms in the living room next time if I were you.

      • Aussie Jack says:

        Oh! boy you guys are sensitive. The only point I made was a mans attitude can, and is , affected by his cultural background, not his religion. I made the mistake of putting the word `Jewish` in parathesis and you lot are so `politically correct`.
        Just for the record I`m not an Aussie, I was schooled and brought up in north London, near Highbury stadium.

      • richie says:

        WW you make exactly my point for me! Concerning Aussie’s I was being sarcastic. We all know and understand well enough that Aussie’s aren’t all from criminal stock. Therefor it follows don’t judge a book by its cover. Aussie Jack who it now seems ain’t even an Aussie is a neighbour of mine I’m Highbury born & bred. As you rightly say this is normally a slur free blog, so when I read AJ’s Nationalistic/Religious comments I thought RG was entirely right to point out that neither nationalistic nor religious sentiments should be used as the monivation on a football field. After all Celtic are in hot water currently because their fans chanted IRA songs. I actually refraned from asking Aussie Jack what he meant by “Like his countrymen he’ll never quit”? Never quit what? “Gaza?” “Palistine?” because I didn’t want to continue on AJ’s inflamatory path.

      • richie says:

        WW furthermore I am actually from criminal stock and very proud of it too.

    • richie says:

      AJ my neighbour I didn’t think you were an Islamic (Whatever that is)? I thought you were a Jewish extremist extolling the virtue’s of never give up an inch for peace. (~:

      Thats a joke my Gooner brother before WW wades in with a history lesson about the ills of British colonial occupation.

  10. Odhis KenyanGunner says:

    I agree Desi, that Arshavin normally makes many intelligent off-the-ball early runs, most of which end up with nothing because the ball doesn’t come, or when it comes its not precise. And he ends up frustrated, thus appearing lazy. When Fabregas was in the line-up with Arshavin, it worked magic, its only his finishing that largely let him down! Coz Cesc spotted (anticipated, even) those runs exquisitely! Ramsey tries but his sight is still ”slower”, and of course he and Andrei havn’t been in the same line-up much, to create that 2-3% more of being on the same page. Ramsey is creating an understanding more with Walcott. Its all about team combination dynamics, really. I think i have seen before Diaby working something out with Andrei. Lets wait and see when he gets a regular run in the squad when Gervinho leaves for the ACN in January. I love Arshavin. His availability on the bench is normally reassuring to me, because hes in that league of players who dont need much to produce a moment of magic… Oh, and am dying to see Diaby have a go too. And Jack, oh Jack! We have an embarrassment of riches! Wenger has his work cut out for him. Meanwhile, do you think ManCity will overcome their fear of our attacking and come out guns blazing to bring the game to us? Coz it really bores for them to always sit back against us. I always find it thoroughly insulting, given their surplus platoon of recognised attacking personnel. And my heart bleeds for Nasri, being reduced to a fringe player like that. Hes surely developing a bad case of nappy-rash, sitting for long hours on the ‘Oily’ City bench!

    • richie says:

      Nasri doesn’t have to worry about nappy rash anymore he can buy himself a gold plated Arse-hole to go with the one he looks at when he shaves in the morning. He might not be playing but he’s got loads of wonga to count before he heads off to the pound shop to spend it. Its not true that money can’t buy you love, it can buy you most things. Almost everything except class. When he’s shaving and looks himself fully in the arsehole he knows hes got no class.

  11. ariko says:

    Andre used †☺ b GƠ̴̴͡.̮Ơ̴̴͡‎​..we aint seeing Ƌ̲̣̣̣̥a̶̲̥̅̊τ̣̣̥ spark in games..we av important games †☺ win if we want any trophy…S̶̲̥̅Ơ̴̴̴̴̴̴͡ D̶̲̥̅̊ boss shld get ɑ̤̥̈̊ player in form †☺ do D̶̲̥̅̊ job til Andre is ready..coming from D̶̲̥̅̊ bench is N☺ excuse cos week in ₪ out we Ơ̴̴͡.̮Ơ̴̴̴͡ oda playaz cum from D̶̲̥̅̊ bench ₪ do dia bit…I watch Andre closely ₪ its now very difficult for him †☺ dribble opponents ₪ ofcourse ɑ̤̥̈̊ very poor recovery rate.

  12. Raghugovind says:

    Awesome Analysis !!!!

  13. Great blog wery intresting reaf !!!!

  14. Santori says:

    AA is slower and struggles out wide. He is better given freedom in the middle just behind a main striker.

    In a way, Chamakh may just compliment AA as IMO they both need an extra body close and around them to be effective.

    It is a combination that may yet reP result and afford us an alternative to RVP but sadly, it has not been properly explored.

  15. DeepRed says:

    I’m one who thinks Ramsey’s form has been patchy, so I’m surprised Arshavin hasn’t been given a go in the middle of the pitch, which is after all where he made his name and where his creativity could be awesome with RVP. Why ALWAYS out wide?

    • richie says:

      DR what are you talking about where he made his name? Tell us all if you will when and where AA played in the middle? At Zenit he played on the left. For Russian under Advocaat he played on the left of a typical Dutch style 4 3 3. AW has tried Shava in every position of both the first and second 3 3. Don’t take my word for it check the stats.

  16. Messi's dad says:

    Good of you to provide fuller context to Arshavin’s statements.

    I for one have not forgotten his 10 goals and 18 assists of last season, and I believe he can be a viable solution should (touch wood, cross fingers, cross your heart, etc etc etc!) our star striker gets injured. Remember when Arshavin played for an extended run of games as our “striker” when both RvP and Bendtner were injured, before Chamakh arrived? He can do it, if the midfielders spot his runs early enough, which is something I believe needs to be improved a.t.m. (I notice quite a few of RvP’s good runs are missed). My worry is that when the time comes, there would be a burden on Arshavin to deliver immediately.

    In any case, he is still one of our more unpredictable players inside the opposing box. Some other points:

    – As a midfielder, I rate him in the same class as Rosicky and Benayoun, in that these guys add much more to the team’s overall offensive creativity than what they bring individually (which are not insignificant).
    – Theo is currently on good form, but in the past I have subjectively found Arshavin to be more effective in his direct runs (slower, but more skillful and harder to dispossess, more creative and better in decision-making).
    – I still think that RvP, Rosicky, Wilshere and Arshavin, are our top offensive players in being able to release the final ball before the recipient (usually our wingers) gets offside. Ramsey is getting there, but he needs to look up earlier and deliver the final ball faster (before Theo/Gervinho stray offside), and Arteta and Song (notwithstanding the last two assists) seem to deliver such balls as often as Ramsey. of course, Cesc was peerless at releasing players.

  17. Messi's dad says:

    typo in my earlier post – i meant to say that Arteta and Song [do not] “seem to deliver such balls as often as Ramsey” at the moment.

    Of course, I believe that this is a function of their respective positions and roles, and not ability.

  18. Gunnerdoit says:

    Great article, please keep up the good work. You are the best around.

  19. john L says:

    great article!

    i believe that presonality is playing its part here. arshavin is a very honest person, it seems to me. so when someone asks him how does it feel to be on the bench, or come off the bench….he says not great. i see that as honesty rather than bad attutide. i mean what players wants to be on the bench!?!?

  20. chris says:

    Surely the thing isn’t attitude or character but performance

    You can have lazy primadonnas but if they contribute to the team winning, you can out up with it.

    The point is that Arshavin now and when he arrived, the difference is stark and obvious.

    At the start of last season you could say he was effective and that was all that mattered although he already looked fatter and slower, his skill levels were high. He never made those long high speed runs and he lost the ball more than previously and his pasing wasn’t quiite as spot perfect. But he could generally beat the first man and was very direct. If you could et him the ball in the opposition penalty area even in tight spaces, it meant danger to the defenders.

    Now though he loses possession when trying to beat people more than he retains it (in my non-statistical saying what I see way of measuring these things), his passing is sometimes woeful and he almost always looks sloqwer than te defenders he’s up adainst.

    Of course it’s hard to be full of confidence if you’re a sub who probably by now is worrying about even getting a place on the bench –
    But everything follows from performance. And much as I loved him before he arrived and he’ll still always be the little Russian magician who almost signle-handedly it seemed back then dragged the team to 4th place and CL qualification and got those goals at Anfield when he gets on the pitch now he doesn’t fill me with hope and he rarely surprises me.

    If you wanted a game-changing substitute in a vital match and you had him or Chamakh or Park or Benayoun or Ramsey (assuming he loses his place when Jack gets back) or Oxlade Chamberlain, who would you choose. Ramsey obviously, i guess (since he’s the only first teamer, he’s attack-minded with an eye for a goal or a killer pass and i don’t think many people would put AA ahead of him at the moment). After that, it’s sadly not very clear cut. I’d go for Benayoun, probably, in most games.

    Similarly, if Song was on the bench, a player lots of people have thought of as slow, lazy, clumpy, occasionally overambitious and prone to errors, nowadays most people would think he was more likely to get the team a goal, I guess.

    Also, most of the players he’s up against inside the club are getting better. Unless he’s hiding something amazing, he clearly isn’t.

  21. Archimedes says:

    He’ll get to play more when others get injured. At 30 he won’t get better but is still
    a decent squad player.

  22. Maximilian G. says:

    I like this piece and right on the money when you say:
    “I think the answer lies in the Russian’s game style. He makes a lot of early runs, keeps on getting into spaces between the lines, and is rarely static when off the ball. … Now if the other players can’t read those runs or find them with their passes, a player making such movements would go widely unnoticed. That way he would cover a lot of ground but will not have much to show for it.”
    Arshavin came to arsenal as one of the top and most exciting players in the world at the time, the team was struggling and languid and he saved our season and top 4 finish that year, no questions about it; but his direct fast vertical style never fit in very well with the tiki taka style of the Fab era. I remember watching his early runs and slash movements which were only sporadically synchronized with the way the team was playing. As great as Fab was they never were on exactly the same wavelength. Arshavin is a great professional, if you read his interviews as you do so astutely here on is bound to be impressed by his personality and professionalism but also by his individualism, but I do not think Arsene was the right manager for him or deployed his assets well. something happened along the way, and he was mostly wasted in Arsenal, and from one of the top 10 players in the world withing couple of years he became a listless unenthusiastic winger. personally I wish for him to go elsewhere and show what a genius player he can still be. And that is a great shame because Arsenal new direct style should have been very fitting for him now. With Gervinho going soon If Arsene can motivate him and ‘call plays for him’ so to speak, we may still enjoy his magic and we surey need badly another game winner next to VanP, and who could it be but the great little russian genius?

  23. Amos says:

    A very thoughtful and considered piece. I think the most misunderstood point about Arshavin is that while he’s a good player he isn’t a very good player. The expectations are always that he will do things that he can’t do. Of course he has skills and talent, he wouldn’t have made it as a professional footballer if he hadn’t, and it’s fair to point out that he did have a period where he notched up a few assists (even if quite a few of them relied on the law of averages as a taker of set pieces) at the early part of last season. The difference is that in his first half season playing with freedom and without responsibility he was able to impress on occasions but wasn’t really doing the job for the team. Even his tremendous personally 4 goal triumph at Anfield was in a game where we were absolutely battered by Liverpool and were very fortunate to get a result our team performance didn’t deserve. Since then he has had to adjust his game to suit the demands of the team but he came to us too late and too old to change entrenched attitudes acquired in the relatively freer and less demanding Russian league. He isn’t the only Russian to struggle here Bilyaletdinov, Kolarov, Pubplayerchenko and Zhirkov have all found it hard to justify more than back up roles. What we are seeing with Arshavin isn’t a lack of form or laziness or disinterest it’s all he is capable of. There’s no need to be frustrated with him, he’s still a good player just not all that good.

  24. Henry says:

    U’r always spot on wit ur arguements.I argued dis same issue wit ma friends.AA23 s a beta playa even dan Nasri was 4us.Was y AA23 was gutted wen we cldnt bring in M’Villa,i had a feelin it’d av bin d 3of d two n song in our midfid if tins had gone rite.Giv him chance gooners,he’s gud

  25. […] before I go, an interesting piece on Andrei Arshavin by Desi Gooner. Really worth a read. That’s about it from me though. As always you can follow […]

  26. critic says:

    great article after a long time.

  27. JJ Pittman says:

    As a long time reader and huge fan of your blog, I have to say that this post is by far your best ever. I always liked Benayoun’s style when he was with Liverpool, and really like Arshavin, also. At 30, he will not get a multiple-year contract renewal, but I believe he still has the skills and savvy to put them to use in our system. When Gervinho goes to the African Cup, I hope we see good results from AA23 and the TEAM we all support!

    • desigunner says:

      I think I have finally figured out why your posts got stuck in moderation. Hopefully it won’t happen again. Sorry about the delay in sorting this out.

  28. God bless you a thousand time.Can you have a similar analysis on Chamack to.

  29. richie says:

    You open up a new line of thought and analysis that I need to look out for when next watching Shava play. I have been critical of AA recently on another blog, but my criticism wasn’t solely of him more it was attempting to understand why things aren’t working for a player of Shava’s immence talent. Arsene says of Shava that he is very self critical. So I reasoned that AA would know he hasn’t been performing, that said with this your insightful article, I realise it might not be Shava or his team mates it could well be the where he’s playing and the system he’s in not exploiting his talents to the full. Well that and not getting enough time on the pitch with players on his level. Remembering a Bergkamp defense splitting pass would’ve come to nothing had Thierry not been intelligent enough to run on to it.

  30. Tee Song says:

    Whatever you think of Andrei’s talent level and form, the reality is that he’s likely the team’s highest earner. Cesc was last year before he left, Arshavin second and RvP just behind him.

    I could be wrong but I doubt any of our new players got better contracts than van Persie, let alone Arshavin, so I think my (and most fans’) disappointment is that he hasn’t justified his wages. I would venture to say that even Arsene is privately disappointed since he approved his contract. Sure he’s a good player and he can produce “moments of magic”, but does he do that often enough to be the highest earner on the team? NO.

    I think it’s telling that for all of Andrei’s supposed strengths, Wenger hasn’t chosen to play him in his preferred position, in the hole behind a striker in a 4-4-1-1 or 4-2-3-1. I think it’s because that while that might get the best out of Arshavin, getting the best out of Arshavin isn’t going to get the best performance from the team. In other words, Arshavin isn’t good enough to justify restructuring the team around his abilities. Arshavin has two goals and an assist in 732 minutes this year–1 goal/assist for every 244 minutes played. That’s decent, but certainly not great. I hope that his form improves as we’ll desperately need somebody to step in for Gervhino during the African Cup.

    • dy says:

      never doubt Arshavin’s ability, but like the article says, he’ll perform better with players on the same wave length ( isn’t that always true ?) I remember clearly his first year performance at Arsenal and even to the first half of last season, you could see him always running into good positional space with his fingers pointing to where he wanted the ball but the ball NEVER came. I’ve seen too many times like this and its frustrating to him obviously. To me, he wants the ball he wants to play. Others in the the team just ignored him, this is the real puzzle.

      • richie says:

        Not a puzzle really you hit the nail on the head. The others can’t follow what he’s doing, so they play safe and ignor him. I’ll re-use the Bergkamp Henry example. There were many times when Bergy played the killer ball and none of his team mates moved. He’d turn and walk away shaking his head. It was just too smart a ball for everyone, it out foxed all on the field. Whenever Henry read Bergy’s intentions it was magical, if he didn’t the ball was given away. I recall Bergy playing with Chiefy (Kanu) another gifted visionary and it was silly because they would try to out do one another attempting to score the perfect tap in after playing ever more outrageous defence splitting passes. They read each other perfectly well but the other 20 onfield players were lost.

    • richie says:

      Yeah TS you make some of the points I made elsewhere, but Desi makes a more powerful arguement in favor of AA! I totally agree that playing Shava in the hole probably wouldn’t have been in the teams best interest, we need to win more than play stylish. (Besides Shava didn’t play in the hole for Zenit). I remember him marauding on the left for both Zenit & Russia.
      But probably both the set up of the current team and him not playing regularly contribute to us not getting the best out of him. Like I said before a defence splitting pass could easily look like a player giving the ball straight back to the defence if none of your team mates are capable of reading it. The stats don’t lie if AA is covering that amount of ground he’s anything but lazy, but just as too many of our own don’t understand Arteta’s game, so to we might all be misreading, misunderstanding Shava game. Maybe the same way his team mates do, if they ain’t on the same wavelength.

  31. Absolutely wonderful piece of writing Desi.
    It helps that I love the little fellow.I have to say.

  32. consolsbob says:

    Good article, Dese.

    Very thought provoking.

  33. PDT says:

    DesiJi, in AA23’s defence, Arsene also does not do anything to keep him motivated. AA23 has stated over and over again that he wants to play in the hole, but AW thinks he does not have the engine to do so. I think if AA23 saw any chance of playing in the hole, he’d get back to top fitness and things would change.

    There are no bad employees, only bad managers….

    • richie says:

      Shava might like the idea of playing in the hole but he ain’t ever done it. Not for us, not for Zenit, and not for Russia under the Dutch (Lawyer) Advocaat who played him in a typical Dutch style of 433. It might be Shava’s fantacy but to be fair to Arsene, Mr Wenger has tried out AA in every midfield and forward position known to man. He’s only ever been successful for Russia, Zenit and us cutting in from the left. Those are the facts get Desi to check the stats.

      You last comment doesn’t merit a response its way too silly!

  34. PDT says:

    What price Eden Hazard this Jan?

    • richie says:

      Way too much for our owner! Besides as has been stated way too many times the clubs wage structure won’t support another addition without we out a squad member on high wages first.

  35. moritz says:

    Football is a team sport therefore he need to work his socks off for the team,
    AA23 is the highest salary earner as well, so he must justify that, at least put in an effort, otherwise other players migh have a ill feeling towards him,
    Barca, although I hate them off the field, football wise is just a beauty to watch. What made them today simply was the teamwork, hardwork, and ego-less team. Granted they have superb players but it is just a bonus.
    Xavi, Iniesta and even Messi run for the ball.
    Sometimes it is just the basic that people tend to forget…

    • richie says:

      Didn’t you read the stats that desi presented? AA covered more ground than anyone else on the pitch. That means he is working harder than anyone else, but he’s not getting much recognition for that work, because the fans aren’t seeing it. Its hard for the supporters to judge if Shava doesn’t have the ball much because spectators follow the ball. If Shava keeps making forward runs that take defenders with him but doesn’t recieve a pass, he’s still making those runs he’s still trying, he’s still working for the team. Barca are set up totally different, yes they all work hard to win the ball back, but they do it in union. Not individually.

  36. Vlad says:

    great article, my understanding of club football is that club managing is not about buying/selling players but getting the best of the existing ones. this is why I hate city, madrid, etc. and respect wenger. the only problem is that I feel wenger has not got the best of AA23.

  37. i think the reason many are upset with arshavin isnt his work ethic and stuff but rather that when he has the ball, he most often places a mispass or tries to dribble and fails at it. he loses the ball too often really and doesnt seem sharp enough.

    to be honest though, in the beginning of this season he was good when he came off the bench but lately he doesnt get to come in at all and that is showing in his worsened form

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