The 30-year-old winger signed for Arsenal in January 2009 after impressing for his country during Euro 2008 and then club Zenit.
However, after one bright season for Arsenal, Arshavin has failed to secure a first-team spot due to his lacklustre performances, leaving Graham to believe that the former Zenit playmakers heart is not at the Emirates and was a waste of money.
Graham told talkSPORT’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast Show this week:
‘Arshavin’s been a poor buy, his enthusiasm doesn’t seem to be there.’
‘Last night [against Marseille], and in the past, he’s looked like he doesn’t want to be there. When he pulls that shirt on he’s not been good enough for me.’
I believe a lot of fans will agree with Graham on this one, and whilst I am inclined to concur with him in a sense, I for one truly believe that the Russians performances have suffered due to Arsene Wenger ’s tactics.
Now before everyone starts cussing me and telling me that I’m talking out of my ass, hear me out.
Firstly, Arshavin is not a natural winger; he is an attacking midfielder, a player that roams behind the striker and creates through the middle. Any player playing out of position will look crap and will more than likely struggle to have an impact on a game.
In the past, Arshavin looked great for Zenit and his country. Why? Because he was deployed in his natural position. He managed to net 76 goals and make 109 assists in 309 games for the Russian club, which are impressive stats and indicate that he is a creative player.
In June of this year, his national manager, Dick Advocaat , had this to say on Arshavin and Wenger:
‘One of his problems is that he plays 20 minutes per game. Arsenal head coach Arsene Wenger uses him as a player who can be fielded in the second half and who can refresh the game, Andrey is showing willingness to give the team the best of what he has. I worked with him for over two years at Zenit and I know who he is. A brilliant player of a single episode.’
‘At Arsenal it is not enough to be a player of an episode. Expecting from him a ninety-minute running means not knowing and not understanding Arshavin.’
Says it all really.
Finally, and I think this is the main reason why he looks disinterested as Graham mentioned, is because he’s usually the one to be substituted when he starts a game, even when he’s having a great one, which, deep down, must annoy and dishearten him – I for one would be pissed if I was having this done to me on a regular. Even when fit and at his best, I don’t’ think Arshavin has ever lasted 90-minutes has he?
Listen, I’m not saying that it’s all Wenger’s fault, but his displays have suffered due to Arsenal system and tactics. Arshavin needs to worker harder as well and prove to his critics that he’s still got it
So, has he been a poor buy for Arsenal? No, just been poorly used and treated by Wenger.
Is his heart at Arsenal? Well extracts from his recent interview suggest that it still is:
‘To be honest, I am still expecting more from me as well. But, believe me, I do everything I can do. I just must give everything I can at the moment.’
To conclude, people need to layoff Arshavin and give him a bit more support. I know he hasn’t been great for us in recent times, but he can turn it around. So let’s all get behind him and give him the boost that he needs instead of laying into him every week.
Article courtesy of Tony Merakli from Gunnersphere