Arshavin-Speak Gives Media Mischief Opportunity
Thomas Vermaelen lost his appeal for the red card, the Football Association believing that not having the ball under control means that an obvious goalscoring opportunity exists. Still this is nothing new, this is after all an organisation which is riven with self-interest, cannot organise itself commercially or football wise and is generally making a PR disaster of the 2018 World Cup bid, unable to bring the media onto their side.
Although that is of no surprise since good news does not get hits, sell papers or fill the airwaves. Don’t believe me? Andrey Arshavin has put the wind up a few people, no doubt attracting the opprobrium of the masses for daring to voice an opinion that is not wholly supportive of his fellow squad members and their collective efforts to win the Premier League title. At least that is how the headlines portray his words. As with every other story, the enticement to read the article bears little resemblance to those loosely translated from Russian TV:
I am still of the opinion that to win trophies Arsenal needs more players. There is the simple fact that last summer we sold two players and bought only one. So there is an obvious deficit of at least one. Then we lost Van Persie, Gibbs and Ramsey for a long time. So for me it is natural we need new players.
Without the variety of players we have less diversity in attack. That allows our opponents to read our combinations more easily. Finally, it results in less ball possession for us and our defence comes under more pressure. The Premier League is very interesting, at least as long as we continue fighting to win it. But without new experienced players, real stars, it will be difficult to achieve success.
Ideally we need three or four such experienced players and then among our youths there should be guys who are not only good at playing football but have real character.
Arshavin’s comments are nothing if not consistent, this is a central point he has put forward since joining the club. I am not sure how Zenit St Petersburg achieved success – was it youth or a mixture of big signings and talented youngsters – but the fact is that Wenger did not sign anyone and there is little point in being hung up on the point, supporters and players alike.
The Russian is outspoken and is entitled to have his opinions. Who knows, maybe it is a widely held belief within the squad except those who benefit from the youth policy will defend it whilst age is on their side and diplomacy reigns when talking to the media. Arsenal players rarely criticise the club, the manager or each other when speaking publicly. I suspect that this will be met with eyes raised to Heaven, shrugged shoulders and no interest whatsoever. If someone takes offence, let them use it as motivation, to prove the Russian wrong.
The translation is a little bit loose or Arshavin is a tad more conservative with his words on club duty. Speaking of Nicklas Bendtner, he argued that the diversity in attack is helped by the Dane being in the side:
Obviously it has helped us [having Bendtner back]. He creates more space for the players behind him, and that offers us more time and possibilities to do something special. It helps me personally of course. And he’s good in the air – he wins a lot of balls that way and through this we can gain even more possession.
We can play differently with him in the side – when I am playing centrally we can use only low balls, but with Nick up front we have the opportunity to play higher balls and balls in behind, varying things a bit more. His goals have been welcome. He’s in good form and has shown that he has the instinct for a chance – not that many teams make as many chances as we do!
It is apparent that Arshavin does rate the players at the club, lest his words be considered divisive. They are not, more to do with the fact that we are not used to hearing footballers speak their mind. Too often, there is a party line being toed. There is nothing wrong in that but some honest opinions make a change. Nor does it mean that Arshavin does not believe the club can win the title, simply that it will not be easy.
He does not omit himself from criticism. Arshavin set high standards for himself in his first four months at the club and has met them, generally speaking, in his first full season. Yet he has struggled to find consistency:
I do not have a sense of stability in my game. I feel I can match them and sometimes when I catch some inspiration I show performances that are on the same level or close to them. But I am still not as consistent as [Drogba, Cesc and Torres].
He is right. Adaptation to the English game is not an instant process and he has been asked to play in unfamiliar roles during his time at the club, central striker against lumps of defenders does not naturally suit him. Were he as unhappy as the media portrays, his performances would not have been as good as they were.
Once more misinterpretation rules supreme; the truth is less prosaic than the headlines which trumpet Arshavin’s throwing in of the towel would have you believe. The interpretation from Russian to English allows for some mischief but you have to admit, it is nowhere near as funny or psychedelic as that which his own website carries.