Archive for October 23rd, 2010

Who’s lazier: Arshavin or his critics?

229 comments October 23rd, 2010

The tide of consensus seems to be turning against Andrey Arshavin.  After an explosive first six months in English football, he seemed destined to inherit Cristiano Ronaldo’s crown as the Premier League’s most exciting attacking talent.

Last season, he was hampered by injuries and being played out of position as the world’s smallest lone striker: the pygmy in the middle.  It was in these circumstances that the lack of consistency and unwillingness to track back that frustrates his critics began to emerge.

Those traits have continued in to this season.  Despite some impressive performances against the likes of Tottenham and Braga, many fans are tiring of what they perceive as the Russian’s indifference.

When quizzed about his form yesterday, however, manager Arsene Wenger was unmoved:

“If you look at the stats, he is the player who has created more chances than everybody else in the Premier League this season.

So his numbers are quite surprising to people who think he has not done so well.”

Wenger’s faith in the player could not be more clear: no-one has started more games for Arsenal this season.  He’s delivered, too, with five goals already – half his total tally for last season.

Watching Arshavin can be frustrating.  For every moment of genius, there’s a simple pass misplaced.  But you can’t have eleven players just passing the ball sideways to each other.  Arshavin’s erraticism is part of what makes him great: his willingness to take a risk, to try and beat a man, to have a shot.  I’m an unashamed apologist for a player I think provides a wild-card and an alternative to our tippy-tappy tendencies.

Quite how much longer he’ll be able to do is another question.  When asked how long his contract has to run, Arsene had to think about it before hazarding a guess at two years.  It was not the reaction of a manager locked in the detail of re-negotiations.

At the end of the season, Arshavin will be thirty with just a year left on his deal.  It is surely unthinkable that a club as financially prudent as Arsenal would allow their record signing to depart on a bosman, so unless there’s some movement on a new deal soon, you’d have to imagine there’s every chance Arshavin could be sold this summer.

I, for one, would be sorry to see him go.

City preview tomorrow.

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