In 2008 Russian sensation Andrei Arshavin was the toast of Europe, his enterprising runs, dazzling dribbles and goal scoring abilities garnered the attention of several clubs. Arshavin contributed significantly to Zenit St. Petersburg’s UEFA Cup success and was the architect behind Russia’s remarkable run to the semi-finals of Euro 2008. These exploits made him the hottest property in Eastern Europe. Throughout his career in Russia several clubs in the major European leagues inquired about his services. After the 2008 European Championships he stayed in the Russian league as none of them took the bait. Despite his unquestionable virtuoso talents he does possess a petulant side and a poor work ethic.
Arsenal bought the mercurial 27-year-old Russian for £15m in 2009. Several eyebrows were raised as his age was not characteristic of an Arsene Wenger signing. In the 2010-11 season he amassed 12 goals and 17 assists in 52 games. His current tally of two goals and two assists in 21 games shows that he is far behind that high standard. His performances this season have been tepid, unsatisfactory and generally uninspiring.
With his 31st birthday rapidly approaching one must wonder if Arshavin can recapture his form of four years ago. His questionable work ethic and lacklustre performances are characteristic of a player who is not up to the fight anymore. His lack of zeal and unwillingness to bide into the team ethic illustrates this. Regular followers of the Gunners can attest to the fact that whenever Arshavin plays he fails conform to the team dynamic, often seen dribbling with his head down and failing to track back when not in possession.
One theory that has been proposed is that Arshavin has already peaked and is now in decline. Being the elder statesman in a team not challenging for silverware has diminished his passion and overall willingness to fight for the cause. When one mentions the word longevity in football it must be accompanied with eagerness, teamwork and dedication. These are all traits players who stay at the top for a long time possess, and all traits that Arshavin lacks.
After a disastrous display in the most recent game against Swansea City, where he was at fault for one of the goals, his status at the club must be re-considered. The signing of Gervinho and the emergence of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has changed the status of Arshavin to that of a bit part player. With a year and a half to run on his current contract one must wonder if the Gunners will cash in on him in the summer. If not then next season would certainly be his last in North London.
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