Arsenal Player Focus – Andrey Arshavin

Andrey Arshavin is Russia’s captain, Arsenal’s No 23 and the first player to score four away goals in a single league game at Anfield since 1946, but has yet to obtain a winners medal since arriving in England. Achieving silverware this season will be the icing on the cake on his career. Since his move from Zenit Saint Petersburg he has become a fan’s favourite in North London. On his first day as an Arsenal player he declared: “I am gooner”, whilst his funny and quirky character seem to have helped his popularity grow.

Arshavin made an immediate impact upon his arrival in North London, creating a number of assists and scoring some scintillating goals. His finest hour came at Anfield in 2009, when he scored four goals against Liverpool in one of the most highly entertaining Premier League matches of all time. He is a player capable of producing magic out of nothing, something that separates the best from the average.

Arshavin recently stated in an interview that he has lost his sparkle since coming to England. Speaking to Russian newspaper he said: “As for football I can say that my style has also altered – it is more effective, but less sparkling. I don’t remember when was the last time I scored a really beautiful goal.”

This is an accurate assessment of his play and style, which frustrates many, as he was known to be a very stylish player before coming to Arsenal. The Russian is sometimes guilty of going missing during games and struggles to make an impact on a match. However, in so many cases during his Arsenal career, he comes out of nowhere to produce a match-winning goal. In the Gunners last match against Blackburn Rovers, he was in the right place at the right time to secure his side the three points in what was a tricky encounter for them. The Arsenal fans may criticise his performance for the majority of a match, but he can quickly silence them with the kick of a ball.

The Russian endured a tough period last season, as his country failed to qualify for the World Cup, added with the frustration of niggling injuries. For parts of last year’s campaign he had to adapt to playing as a lone striker, due to key players being out injured. With just three games into the new season, it looks likely he may be deployed in the same position, as Nicklas Bendtner, Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott are expected to be on the sidelines for some time. He will now have to form a partnership with new forward Marouane Chamakh, as the Gunners head into a busy schedule of matches.

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