Football

Andrei Arshavin moves on from Arsenal

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Arshavin is currently looking for a new club. (©GettyImages)
Arshavin is currently looking for a new club. (©GettyImages).

Andrei Arshavin arrived at the Emirates as the costliest signing in the history of Arsenal.

Memorable performances in the Euro 2008 which had followed a starring role in Zent St. Petersburg's UEFA Cup triumph, and the expectations among the fans and in the media was at a high. 

Here was a player who seemed to have it all: speed, vision, touch and the jaunt of a star who knows the world's his oyster. Adding to his aura was Barcelona trying to buy him before he arrived at the Emirates.

He started off with a flourish, highlighted by the four-goal burst at Anfield where an abysmal Arsenal defence was the only factor which allowed Liverpool to escape with a victory, while they were on a title charge. 

The little Russian was so dominant and so effective that even his seemingly taunting celebrations of his goals were applauded by the Anfield faithful. The Russian had arrived in the Premier League in January and taken only a few days to fit in to a league distinctly difficult for foreigners to adjust to.

Alas, that performance of four years ago is the only reminders Arsenal fans have of the talent which the club had at its disposal, and one of the greatest "what might have been" stories of the club. 

When he arrived at the club, it was a young Spaniard, Cesc Fabregas who was coming into his own in leading the team and driving the team forward, and was also playing in the position the Russian thrived in for his club and also his national team. 

When Fabregas left, did Arsene Wenger miss a beat by not deploying the Russian in that position which might have revived Arshavin's career at the Emirates, or was it too late by then, and Wenger had spotted some deficiency in character or effort which excluded him from his grand designs for the club?

That's a question left unanswered, and as the fans say goodbye - some, with relief - they will always wonder at what might have been. It may have been a lack of opportunity, but Arshavin did see off his contract, which neither Fabregas nor Samir Nasri, another similarly girted attacking midfielder, did. 

Arshavin's position where he was deployed at Arsenal was a wide position, and occasionally the lone striker during a particularly serious injury crisis but rarely did he operate in a free attacking role through the centre of midfield in the Premier League.

The tragedy for Arsenal fans is that Arshavin's stay at the club will be remembered more for the boos which rang out at the Emirates when he came on as substitute for an impressive Alex Oxlade Chamberlain in the 2011-12 season against Manchester United, rather than for the four goal heroics at the Anfield, or any such performance which his talent promised, but never delivered.

 

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Topics:
Football
Andrey Arshavin
Arsenal
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