Yesterday it was confirmed that Andrey Arshavin would rejoin Zenit St Petersburg on loan until the end of the season. This appears to be the final nail in the coffin of Arshavin’s career at Arsenal that has seen him swing from being compared to Cristiano Ronaldo to making an appearance for Arsenal Reserves last week.
The Russian was one of my favorite footballers to have pulled on an Arsenal shirt. His ability to make me grin from ear to ear with a cheeky move or an effortless shot that rifled into the net at top speed was something that I believed he still had right up until this season. The goal against Barcelona aside, my lasting memory has to be his goal against Man United at Old Trafford in 2009. Howard Webb, as is his norm, denied a stonewall penalty after Fletcher slid into Arshavin, so the Russian simply walked back onside, received the ball with his back to goal, turned round and hit an unstoppable shot past Van Der Sar. This goal was also a perfect summary of the player for the majority of his career; lazy but brilliant. As the laziness began to override the brilliance, Wenger always supported the player and used his stats to back him up, so let’s take a look at his seasonal breakdown.
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As expected, his first season shows a set of fantastic stats. This was when Arshavin had the world at his feet after starring at Euro 2008 and guiding Zenit to victory in the UEFA Cup. His stats compare admirably to who was arguably, at the time, one of the world’s best, Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo only had one more assist, a worse chance conversion, worse crossing accuracy and took more minutes per chance created. Both shooting accuracy’s were 53%, but of course this was the beginning of Ronaldo becoming the goal machine that he is and he had 12 more goals than Arshavin. At the end of the season he came second in Arsenal’s player of the season goal, despite only signing in February.
His second season at Arsenal was as impressive. The dramatic change in his goals and assist tally can be attributed to the fact he was played, stupidly, as a lone striker, some people have pinpointed these few weeks as the beginning of his downturn at Arsenal. Aside from the goals and chances created, all the Russian’s attacking stats have gone down. What is most interesting is that his defensive stats increase during the 09/10 and 10/11 season. This is strange though because it was during the 10/11 season that criticisms of his laziness and defensive ability began. I would put this down to the fact that, as said at the start of this article, the brilliance was being overridden by his laziness so he became a target for fans. Interestingly, his best performances in an Arsenal shirt have come when Van Persie was injured. As we have seen this season, Arshavin’s penchant for drifting into the middle means he often occupies a similar average position as Van Persie, stifling both.
This again raised another argument surrounding the player, should he be played in his favored number 10 role. There have been retorts that playing on the wing didn’t stifle his ability in his first two seasons, but arguably he was rarely stuck on the wing then. Also, this season he has played twice in the number 10 role, in the Carling Cup against Bolton and in the Reserves against Norwich, scoring a total of 3 goals and setting up 2, winning man of the match against Bolton. In addition to this, in the Premier League this season, he has scored the winning goal against Swansea and provided 3 vital assists, most notably against QPR when he won man of the match. Why Wenger has been willing to let him go at this stage of the season when he can still make an impact as evidence as recently as the game against Sunderland where he placed a pinpoint ball on the top of Henry’s toe, one can only guess at.
All of the stats are from the EPLIndex.com Stats Centre. Can’t get to see your team’s match? Want live stats for the game? All you need to do is subscribe to our service! Register Now!