It’s fair to say that Arsenal fan patience with Arshavin is running thin. The root of this frustration is clear. This isn’t a case of a player who just can’t cut it in the Premiership. The difficulty here is that Arshavin, despite having access to bundles of talent, just doesn’t seem interested in making his mark. Of course, he, like any good player has his moments and with the ball at his feet he’s a fearsome sight for defenders who find it difficult to keep up with the notoriously tricky little Russian. Even on a purely statistical basis, Arshavin is pulling his weight for the Gunners. At this early stage in the season Arshavin already has 5 goals and 6 assists – not bad for a player who clearly isn’t at the top of his game.
The trouble with Arshavin seems to lie with his fitness levels and his desire to contribute positively to the team. He constantly breaks down Arsenal’s free-flowing passing game with wayward passes and is almost useless when Arsenal don’t have the ball. He rarely bothers to track back and provide protection for Clichy and his applied pressure when the opponent has the ball has all the force of a gentle breeze. The truth of the matter is that the sight of Arshavin, hands on hips, ambling across the pitch watching the game go on without him has become an all to common sight.
This is a far cry from the man who lit up Euro 2008 before signing for Arsenal for £12 million from Zenit St Petersburg. Who can forget that wonderful evening when Arshavin slotted four goals past Liverpool at Anfield? Days such as this seem to belong very much to the past and this season Arshavin has shown only glimpses of the talent and ability that it’s clear he has. So what’s gone wrong with Arshavin and is it likely to be a permanent thing?
The first and most major problem appears to be with his fitness levels. Reports have suggested that Arshavin came back from pre-season training this season sporting a little extra weight around his midriff. True or not, it’s clear that Arshavin’s first goal should be to work on his fitness and attempt to get stuck into the game a little more. That requires tracking back and providing cover for his fullback when needed. If he wants to be a great player he can’t be content to sit and wait for the ball to come to him. The problem may be one of motivation. Arshavin is never a man to let his true feelings remain unheard and has levelled a number of complaints and criticisms regarding his circumstances and Arsenal’s fortunes. Has his dissatisfaction led him to rest on his laurels and not pull his weight?
This is clearly a man who isn’t satisfied with a lack of success. He needs to realise that if he is to achieve this success at Arsenal it will require him being more of a team player, working on his fitness and contributing more to Arsenal’s cause. It’s often noted that fans are willing forgive players for dips in form when they can see they are giving it their all. Fans are not so forgiving when they think players could apply themselves better. This appears to be the case with Arshavin – if he could combine his goal scoring and creative ability with a refined work ethic, it’s not unforeseeable that he could once more be lavished with the kind of superlatives he was used to back around the time of Euro 2008. Oh – and as a reminder of just how good he was back then, we’ve included this video:
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