Has Arshavin’s form become a cause for concern?

Andrei Arshavin’s form for Arsenal at the moment has been indifferent, to put it best. While the whole Arsenal side is excelling and pushing for Premier League and European glory, Arshavin has been left behind. Maybe it’s because we in the media expect greatness from Arshavin every game, and no player can be at his best for a full season. But at a time when Arsenal need him most, the Russian’s recent form is becoming a bit of a worry.

Since signing from Zenit back in January 2009, Arshavin has been a revelation for Arsenal, scoring six goals and providing 5 assists in his first 12 games for the club and also bagged himself 4 goals against Liverpool in what was a scintillating performance last season. A creative wizard that can unlock a defence with a killer pass or a moment of brilliance, Arshavin is a deadly finisher that can score as well as create goals.

This season, the Russian playmaker has played in 32 games for Arsenal, scoring 10 goals and providing 6 assists for the team in all competitions. If we look at Arshavin’s stats in 2010, he has noticeably struggled, only scoring 3 goals in the last 16 games, with those goals coming against Bolton, Burnley and Hull.

Arshavin is a world class player, but what is the reason for his indifferent form at the moment? Part of the criticism of Arshavin concerns the notion that he is lazy, unwilling to track back and is a victim of occasional lapses of concentration, particularly in his own half. These claims have merit, but with hard-working players like Song, Diaby and Denilson in the midfield that can pick up the slack for Arshavin, he can do what he does best: create that little moment of brilliance and win a game with a bit of magic. The Russian is simply conserving his energy so he can produce that moment of brilliance that can instantly change a game. That’s the price of having an Arshavin-type player in your team, and it’s a trait that he has always possessed, even for Zenit and Russia, so it’s not a new problem with him.

The other problem with Arshavin at the moment is his finishing in front of goal. Too often recently the Russian has been missing easy chances and trying to go for glory when he should be passing to an open teammate. Granted, he has been creating chances instead of converting them, particularly in the Porto game, where he had a hand in nearly all of Arsenal’s goals in the 5-0 demolition.

Maybe the Russian is not as motivated as last season, as last year he wanted to make an impression and this could be seen in the quality of his passing, decisive runs and slick off the ball movement. This season, as he has already proven himself at Arsenal, he looks like he is conserving his energy for when it matters. Speaking out and condemning Arsenal’s title chances after losses to Chelsea and Man United didn’t help either, nor did the car accident he was involved in last week, which means he could have more serious off-the-field issues to worry about.

If Arsenal want to win the league and have any hope of beating Barcelona in the Champions League, then the Gunners need Arshavin to be at his mercurial best. This form is undoubtedly just a temporary blip for the Russian, but he does need to improve his overall contribution to the team, instead of letting his teammates do all the running and counting on him for the odd moment of brilliance.

What do you think about Arshavin’s recent form? Can he be the difference between Arsenal winning or not winning the Premiership?

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