A View From Below

Sporting debate and opinion

Classy Arshavin just the tonic Arsenal needed for second-half of the season

Andrey ArshavinBefore the signing of the former Zenit St. Petersburg forward (pictured) , Arsenal were a side in dire straits. 5th in the Premiership trailing a strong Aston Villa side; Arsene Wenger’s side looked an outside bet to grab a Champions League spot, and although looking solid in the cup competitions, Arsenal, a side who revel in attacking football looked to be lacking an extra dimension in the final third of the pitch.

Since the Russian playmaker’s move to the North London giants in January – or to be accurate February as he signed on in the delayed window due to poor weather (and two minutes before it shut) – his good form coincided with key players returning to fitness and Aston Villa’s free-fall has seen the Gunners secure a likely 4th spot in the League and the club has taken that high morale to reach the F.A. Cup semi-finals and the last four of the European Cup.

Andrey Arshavin announced his arrival in style in England against Liverpool in the league with a four goal display in the 4-4 draw. His finishing and predatory instincts were absolutely essential in an otherwise ordinary Red and White performance. Arsenal have longed for a player to finish off all their sublime interplay but have seemed to lack a out and out goalscorer since the departure of Thierry Henry to Barcelona in 2007. Adebayor filled the role last year with a good goalscoring return, but has failed to live up to the heights this year and although Robin Van Perise seems to be coming good, they have both been injured for large chunks of the season.

The karaoke-singing, baby-faced Russian star has adapted his game in the three months he has had in England and shown some of the talent that made him the most sought after player last summer, and led Arsenal to shell out close to $15 million to secure his signature. Arshavin gives Arsenal that extra dimension, able to create something out of nothing and combine classy build-up play with accurate finishing, simply put; he is a great player, who has a knack of finding the net.

His finishing and talent were both on display against Liverpool, with his first and third goals against Rafa Benitez’s side proving his ability and a 6-yard goalscorer, his second exhibiting his flair from long range and his last goal highlighting his composure in front of goal. It is just a shame he will not be able to demonstrate his genius on the European stage, cup-tied for already playing for Zenit St. Petersburg earlier in the competition. (which if you ask me is an ignorant rule that simply prohibits the chances of a player transferring mid-season)

Arshavin has shown his team-mates and his fans that what he offers is an immense talent that fits in with the Wenger philosophy of attractive football. Not often are the Arsenal manager’s signings always met with unanamous delight -considering some of the younger and lesser known players he signs – but this Easter European was rightly met with unheralded joy by the Gunners fans and if his early promise is to be fulfilled, so too will all fans of the best football league in the world.

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April 26, 2009 - Posted by | Football

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