Andrei Arshavin was one of the stars of Euro 2008 (despite only playing in two games) as a surprisingly strong Russia side made their way to the semi finals of the competition, knocking out a very strong looking Netherlands team in the process. A team’s not built on just one player but yet there was one man who stood out more than any other for Russia in this tournament – Andrei Arshavin. Arshavin’s impressive performances led to him being named in the Team of the Tournament and led to great interest from a number of clubs, including Arsenal. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said of the prospective signing
“I knew about Arshavin before but I’m only now discovering what he is really like. His way of winning one-on-one battles is incredible. It is the mark of a truly great player. I am not saying anything new when I tell you that he is the revelation of the Euro 2008 finals. Arsenal have been named as a club he might join, but this is something that happens with players all the time. I have never met him.The Russian team is a pleasure to watch and, in this respect, it is similar to Arsenal.”
The move looked unlikely as Arshavin seemed to be trying to push through a move to Barcelona. That fell through though and Arshavin was instead linked strongly to Tottenham, who subsequently failed to reach an agreement with Zenit St. Petersburg for the attacking midfielder. But in February 2009, as the transfer window was supposed to be closing, Arshavin signed for Arsenal, bringing himself the big move he wanted.
The strange thing about Arshavin was that he had remained unnoticed by football fans for a long time – he was already 27 years old by the time of Euro 2008 and subsequently his move to Arsenal and there was scepticism as to how good he could actually be given that he hadn’t moved to a bigger club at a younger age. Had Arsenal risked spending a lot on a failure?
The answer was a resounding “no”, Arshavin was immediately drafted into the Arsenal first team where he was unlucky not to score on his debut. The versatile Russian is able to play as an attacking midfielder, left or right winger or as a striker but Wenger seemed to prefer deploying him on the left where Arshavin was looking good. He scored his first goal against Blackburn in March and proceeded to score a couple more in the coming few weeks.
The performance which made everyone sit up and take note though occurred on the 21st of April as Arsenal travelled to Anfield to face title-challenging Liverpool. The hosts were by far the better team on the night but they did not possess the best player of the night – Arshavin – who responded to everything Liverpool could do, scoring 4 goals and the hosts needed a last gasp equaliser to deny Arsenal what would’ve been a shock win given the circumstances. Arshavin was already becoming an Arsenal star, club legend Dennis Bergkamp declared him as having
“Every chance of becoming a favourite of the London fans”
And this has come to fruition; Arshavin’s good performances continued after the Liverpool game and he even captained the side in May. He was voted Premiership (and Arsenal) Player of the Month for April and came 2nd in Arsenal’s Player of the Season award despite only playing the latter half of the campaign for the Gunners.
Arshavin has been in good form this season too – already scoring and assisting a number of goals. He seems to relish the big games as he’s scored against both Liverpool and Manchester United so far this season and he’s one of Arsenal’s most threatening players.
Arshavin is a player who, even on an off day, can suddenly produce a moment of magic which turns the game. He’s unpredictable, has a cracking shot and is very creative and the fans adore him already. The man’s a footballing genius.
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