The rise and fall of a Mercurial talent

10 04 2013

Andrei Arshavin really excited me when he first rocked up at the Emirated but in the end has failed to deliver the goods.
I am going to rather shamelessly pinch the following article from the chaps over at Arseblog as it sums up my feelings on the matter pretty much perfectly:


The sad decline of Andrei Arshavin

Morning to you.

There was an interesting story in the Evening Standard yesterday suggesting that Andrei Arshavin was considering retirement at the end of the season. This morning a Russian paper suggests that it’s not true, but the saddest part of it is that it doesn’t seem that far fetched.

A player that came to us in a blaze of £13m glory, at the end of a ludicrously protracted deadline day (and the day after saga), has started just twice this season and made only 11 appearances since the start of the season. His last game was 15 minutes against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge back in January when the other options on the bench in a game we were chasing were Frimpong, three defenders and a goalkeeper. He hasn’t kicked a ball for us since.

Sometimes he crops up in the training photos, usually having a laugh with his hat on sideways or something, and it’s impossible to escape the conclusion that his heart just isn’t in it. He had the chance to go to Reading on loan or permanently this January, but refused that option knowing his chances of playing for Arsenal were slim. To say it’s gone stale would be a huge understatement.

There are those that accuse Arsene Wenger of ruining his career, but while there are certainly valid criticisms you can level towards the manager, this is not one of them. The only time I can really remember him being played out of position was when he was asked to play centre-forward for a short time. We had some of an injury crisis back then. The Dutch Skunk was having one of his typical periodical absences, while both Bendtner and Eduardo were injured.

Arshavin was asked to play a role not 100% suited to his game, but then many players are asked to do that week in, week out (ask Aaron Ramsey for example, or even Mikel Arteta who has blossomed in an unfamiliar role). He wasn’t a target man, certainly not the ideal candidate for the lone striker role in the formation we use, but he was hardly being asked to play centre-half or full-back. He was a forward being deployed in a forward position.

As he was for the rest of his Arsenal career. Being played as part of a forward three in a team which focuses on the attacking side of the game is not the ruination of any player’s career. It’s where Ronaldo plays for Madrid or, indeed, Messi for Barcelona. To my mind he had the talent to achieve a lot more, where he failed is with application.

I remember watching him closely in a game (possibly against Middlesbrough) a couple of months after he signed. He was intelligent, communicative (especially as it was a young Kieran Gibbs behind him at left back that day – Arshavin talked and pointed and guided him through the game), his movement was excellent and after what we’d seen from him at Anfield and the boost he gave our season after his signing, there was no doubt in my mind we’d signed a really talented footballer.

But talent only gets you so far. How many times have we seen a player blessed with natural ability and skill fail to make the grade? Someone like Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, for example, of whom Arsene Wenger waxed lyrical about his football ability, but who is now playing for Ipswich because he thought his skill was all that mattered. Compare to someone like Ray Parlour who knew that he was never the most technically gifted player (especially when Arsenal signed the likes of Bergkamp, Overmars, Pires, Henry and Vieira), but became important to the team because of his hard work which helped those around him to flourish.

As time went by Arshavin’s skill and ability on the ball wasn’t enough. There were issues with his fitness, his weight (still the only Premier League footballer I’ve seen at Arsenal with love handles – and before you say Andre Santos … ahem), and the writing was on the wall when, last February, with Arsenal involved in an almighty scrap with Sp*rs for the top four, Arsene Wenger decided we could do it without the Russian and packed him off to Zenit on loan.

At the time I was a bit flummoxed by that, but the manager was proved right in the end. We did it without him. Even a successful spell back at his old club wasn’t enough for anyone to take a chance on him last summer. Arsenal tried to move him on, nobody was interested in taking a player whose reputation as one of the most exciting players in the world was left a long way behind.

Ultimately it all comes down to him and his attitude. Has he grown comfortable in London on big wages? Has he lost some, if not all, of his desire for the game? Was he willing to work hard to get back into the team? All of that is speculative (not unreasonably either) unless you can can get into the mind of the player himself, but to me there’s no doubt whatsoever that over the last couple of years Arsenal could have done with a player of his talent and ability.

It might have been too long ago, but he was one of the only players who had the ability to change a game, to produce a bit of skill or a finish that set the opposition reeling (there was a goal away at Liverpool which illustrates that perfectly). And there has to be a very good reason why Arsene Wenger, who loves players with the kind of ability Arshavin has, simply stopped using him. The answer is not where Arshavin was played, or the risible excuses some make for him that suggest he shouldn’t have to track back or work hard (every player has a job to do offensively and defensively, nobody’s that special); the buck stops with the player.

Before anyone accuses me of some kind of character assassination, this is anything but. I’ll admit I like him. I don’t bear him any ill-will, I don’t think he’s an insufferable arsehole like so many footballers, but I do have regrets about the way his time at Arsenal has played out. I think it’s a real shame that someone as gifted as he is allowed himself to slip into such decline.

The man who excited and thrilled, the man who announced himself in English football by scoring four at Anfield, the guy who said ‘I am Goonar’, is now a man who can’t get a game. A man who refused to go elsewhere to play football, content to sit at Arsenal and see out his contract. We’ve moved on, we’ve had to, but unless Arshavin does likewise he might as well call it a day.

But in the end it’s Arsenal for whom our concern should be. We paid a big transfer fee and big wages, and we got nothing close to value for money.

How sad.

Not so reliant Robin

5 07 2012

Often in life it isn’t what you say that matters, it is how you say it.
I can only but assume that a certain Mr. R. Van Persie and his agent were never made aware of this fundamental lesson. Otherwise they might have shown a bit more savvy when issuing yesterday’s statement.

Fair enough Robin doesn’t want to renew his contract with the Arsenal, that is his right. At the end of the day club loyalty and all the rest of it aside we are dealing with employees not slaves. My boss can’t force me to keep fixing broken things on the internet and Arsene can’t force Robin to pull on a Gunners jersey.

I don’t even think it is much of a surprise to the fans that he has made this decision, after all if he were dead set on staying then this would have all been wrapped up and put to bed a long, long time ago.

No, what fans, the club and anyone who has followed the saga with even half an eye will be bristling at is the manner in which the statement was worded.

Not to put too fine a point on it the whole thing came across as an attempt to take an underhanded dig at the manager, the club and the way things have been handled.

It was nothing more than a ham-fisted attempt to get the club to sell him now as opposed to running down the last year of his contract.
If part of the idea was to trade on the goodwill of the fans after his quite frankly extraordinary performances last season than I think it has backfired a little.

Arseblogger sums it particularly well:

“The statement is littered with, and I choose my words carefully here, bollocks. For example, when he talks about the meeting he had at the end of the season with Ivan Gazidis and Arsene Wenger:

Out of my huge respect for Mr. Wenger, the players and the fans I don’t want to go into any details, but unfortunately in this meeting it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward.

Perhaps if Robin were the manager this might be appropriate but he’s a player, it’s not. It doesn’t matter if he’s captain. This particular section of the statement is quite pointed. If you disagree in ‘many aspects’ with the manager about the club of which you are captain then it makes it very difficult to continue at that club. The thinly veiled criticism of the manager might well be something certain fans agree with, and we’ve all had our issues with Arsene, but it was a low blow coming from a player who has received nothing but 100% backing from the boss in all the time he’s been here, through some very difficult times.

My goal has been to win trophies with the team and to bring the club back to its glory days.

So the way to fulfill that goal is to cause ructions and try and make the club sell you? Nice one.

I have always given my all (and more) on and off the pitch.

Well, he’s certainly kept the medical staff busy. How much consideration did he give to how the club was going to move forward when he returned from international duty injured on more than one occasion? Or all those times he was crocked while playing for us? How is that after one full season in the eight years since we bought him he feels it appropriate to talk about giving his all. I’m not doubting his commitment when he plays, not by a long shot, but if he were an ever-present he might have a point. As a player whose absences have probably contributed to our lack of silverware, he doesn’t.

There are untruths in there too. He said:

As soon as Mr. Gazidis is back from his 2-week holiday in America further meetings will follow and I will update you if and when there are more developments.

This prompted Arsenal’s Director of Communications to flatly deny the claim on Twitter, but that this was in the statement at all is quite pointed indeed. It suggests that Gazidis is more concerned with his holiday than the future of the captain and I suspect there was a great deal of mischief making in the timing of this announcement.”

The club have of course taken the moral high ground and issued a far more classy, calm statement of their own

” We have to respect Robin’s decision not to renew his contract. Robin has one year to run on his current contract and we are confident that he will fulfill his commitments to the Club.

We are planning with ambition and confidence for next season with Arsenal’s best interests in mind.”

Now I am personally in two minds about running down the last year of his contact. On the one hand I am all for it, partially because it would show players who that ultimately the club is boss, that there is a contract in place and that they do have to respect that. Also because it is exactly what Van Persie doesn’t want to happen.

On the other hand I say fuck Robin and the horse he rode in on, let him fuck off to Citeh or Juve or wherever the hell will take his perma-crocked, mercenary arse.
Do we really want a surly, moaning, twat hanging around for a year?  Taking up a place in the squad, affecting morale, clogging up one of the largest wages and generally putting a downer on things.

Nope if I weigh things up objectively in my head I would say cash in. Why not recoup some of the medical costs we have shelled out on him over the years and use the funds to bring in another striker to compliment Giroud and Podolski? After all there is no guarantee that RVP will deliver the goods this year or ever again for that matter.

Based on what we know from the past he is as likely to snap both legs whilst playing a friendly against Botswana and spend the next 3 years on the treatment table.

I have a message for our illustrious captain. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to say and came to the conclusion that the immortal words of the Bay City Rollers say it better than I ever could.

Arsenal “unveil” new away kit

28 06 2011


Arsenal have finally “unveiled” the new 125th anniversary away kit.

Now seeing as I posted pictures of said away kit back on the 2nd May (thanks Arsenal Insider) this has been about as well kept a secret as the colour of the sky.

Still gloating aside lets have a look at some of  the pictures that the club has chosen to promote  this monstrosity.

In the word of the Arseblogger himself  “It’s a cross between Wycombe Wanderers and jockeys silks”

As an extra special treat here is Szczęsny modelling the very spiffy goalie kit for the coming year…

Now this I like a lot more, even if it does look a little like a Norwich city kit.

Hopefully we will see some more important unveillings of the player variety in the coming days….

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