One Of Us Speaks: Can Andrey Arshavin Overcome His Own Doubts?

If as Puccini believed, “Art is kind of illness”, then Big Al is the sickest little puppy of them all. Take it away Maestro….

We might have seen it coming. On the wintry day he signed, after those slow weeks of tough negotiations, the Arsenal site went to an expert on Russian and Eastern European football to get a perspective on the new recruit, Andrey Arshavin.

Jonathan Wilson pretty much told Arsenal fans what we wanted to hear,

He’s quick, he’s sharp, he reads the game very well, he is a typical Arsène Wenger player in that he seems to have a very acute understanding of where other players are on the pitch.

But in hindsight his most pertinent remarks addressed the player’s role in Zenit’s poor Champions League in 2008 and the loss of form that followed,

They didn’t have much luck in that campaign – it was derailed almost as soon as it started – so for Arshavin the last six months have been difficult. His interest seemed to have waned and he was substituted in five of his last seven League games for Zenit.

Uh-oh, so here’s a player who can sense where his teammates are, has a bit of pace and plenty of imagination, technique and craft, but who has shown that he can lose heart for long periods when things aren’t going his way. Well, that could be a problem – because tough times are a game away for any English club. Arsenal plays in a league in which every player for every team has to toil for a run of results. It’s a competition full of seasoned, reactive managers who prey on opponents’ weak spots.

And then there’s the media. The pressure for a player or manager to prove his worth consistently, and the illogical way in which, say, one subdued performance can tarnish the ten great ones that preceded it. And just look at how managers are singled out; it’s like a prison spotlight. Right now it’s trained on Villas-Boas and he’ll be wincing in its glare until his team wins five on the trot or he’s sacked.

Over the last eight years or so there’s been a financial exigency to stay in this division that has given rise to a bunch of uncompromising, battled-hardened teams, ready to use chicanery or occasional violence for an advantage. The football’s not always great, and it might be a cliché, but there’s no shortage of grit in this here league. Only recently, it’s also been bolstered by exotic skill and nous.

Anyway, point is this; it’s no place to come for an easy ride.

I don’t want to try to run any Arsenal player into the ground, or write a player’s epitaph before there’s any suggestion that he’ll leave the club; I just want to try to find out why his career has played out like this, because it’s confusing to see someone who can do it all – when he’s in the zone – do so little. That’s what we got on Saturday against Fulham; not much. It was just one performance, but could have been one of any over the last 18 months. When these should be his best years.

After the City defeat I think many Arsenal fans are a little worried about our attacking reserves. I’m being hard enough on Arshavin here, so I don’t think I could bring myself to have a go at Park and Chamakh, who offer graft and never had grand reputations.

The reason I bring up our attack is because the current situation might have been avoided, and not through expensive recruitment either. The last time van Persie suffered long-term injury we had a real attacking shortage.

In 2009 van Persie was the ostensible apex of our 4-3-3. Just two years ago he wasn’t really a player keen on holding up the ball, and truth was, he didn’t have to. He’d drop really deep, and back then Arshavin, Fàbregas and Walcott would fly into the vacuum he’d left up front and wreak all kinds of havoc.

The rest of the time he was trying to get in behind the defence, so nobody had any idea where he’d show up. We’re seeing a master-class this season. Here was Jürgen Klopp last week,

Robin van Persie, wow, what a performance, what a player. He’s certainly one of the best in Europe. I’ve hardly ever seen a player who plays so deep in midfield and then is such a danger in the box

And back then, when we did lose van Persie, I think Wenger’s plan was pretty sound. Arshavin was his candidate for that role, and why not? It suited his talents, and, more than any position he’s played at Arsenal, resembled the one he had at Zenit or has for Russia. Despite a promising start though, he never really adapted. It’s a job that he should have been able to do.

Had that switch been a success, we might now have a contingency plan. But Arshavin couldn’t do it. Now I don’t think he wants to be difficult – it’s something in his makeup. I think he doubts himself; I think he’s susceptible to negative thoughts, and I think the disarming self-honesty we admire is a quality that has hindered his progress at Arsenal.

You might say he was never cut out to be at a top club where today all players need to be flexible and ready to make sacrifices for the group. Maybe he left Zenit too late in his career. Or perhaps his move might have worked out better had he gone to a club at which he’d have the freedom of the pitch, with no responsibility until the ball lands at his feet. In another league, somewhere else in Europe perhaps.

He’s playing for a manager with faith in statistics, and Arshavin’s have had a downward trend since his first season. But while he’s still at the club he’ll get games, because we know there will be moments of brilliance. This summer he’ll have what could be a last chance to make his mark on the international stage; there’s time still for a final flourish, but can we afford to give it to him?

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on December 2, 2011, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 140 Comments.

  1. For the team, all we need is a top class striker to assist V. Persie, as for the play making and wing play we have several young players coming up which suggests that we need not worry about and get stuck with Arshavin, he has had enough chances to pick himself up and all the time he hasnt done that. Perhaps it was time he tried his skills in another set-up.

  2. Talented as he is, Arsenal cannot wait forever for him to regain his form. Personally, i have been one of his biggest fans, problem is that father time waits for no one. it is probably time we stopped playing him, look to offload him and give opportunities to players that show promise, potential and the willingness to give it their all when they don the jersey.

  3. all AA needs is game time and imo to be played in the hole right behind the front three. he will ripe them to shreds with his passes and he won’t be shy taking shots at the goal. here is hoping he will come through. we need him and his skills the rest of this campaign. as he is pushing 30, i don’t think his pace or lack of it force him from the wing to a more central position. theo still has a blistering speed and as such should be utilized on the wing to exploit the fullbacks one on one. AA might be getting oldie but he is still a goodie.
    UP THE GUNS!!!!!

  4. Whoever plays in the “hole” needs to drop into midfield when we lose the ball and still put in a good shift. I think this is why Arsene is reluctant to put a forward (especially AA) there. Maybe if we are chasing a game and need for forwards on the pitch perhaps. Ironically, out of all of forward the most suited to playing that role is RvP. It is almost perfect for him.

  5. Everyone goes through a slump from time to time, b ut what is important is that a player show the commitment to play without the ball. That is something that has been severely lacking i the case of AA.

    It isnt surprising that with the team having a bigger focus when it comes to defense this season his playign time has become overly limited even when we are on top of things.

  6. I was thinking competition for places will bring an improvement into AA’s game but he often seem to b uninterested. I think his services should be retained till the end of the season to assess him. If he fails to step up, then he shd be allowed to go to a league where d pace is slower.

  7. Brilliant Al,just alpha omega-ish brilliant

  8. Yes, he’ll get games, right. Wenger surely will give him 10 minutes here and 5 minutes there, as we all can see. Of course, he must show it all in ten minutes, who would not to?

  9. OOU,

    Well written and reflective. I just wonder about the situation regarding replacing him or finding an alternative striker: given that we have invested in the future of Campbell and Vela, for example.

    Of course, there’s no guarantee that a ‘named/known’ striker will have any success if brought in (a point not only underlined by your fine analysis of Andrei but also easily found in the case of Torres etc). I don’t envy Arsene in having to make the apparent stick or bust decisions here.

  10. What a load of old bollocks. 🙂

  11. AA23 – a supremely talented footballer and seemingly intelligent (if somewhat cookoo) man who just cant seem to drag himself out of the slump he is in. If Wenger cant figure it out then you can forget about any theory from the likes of me. I just dont know whats up with the little owl-alike fella.

  12. I don’t think Arshavin should be at Arsenal any more. The modern game asks for consistency, defensive awareness, 100% commitment and physical stamina. I say we sell him to the highest bidder, because he’s not going to get enough game-time anyway, with Benayoun pushing for a first-team spot.

    We can then make concrete bids for one of Nico Gaitan, Hazard, Remy, Ayew etc.

    And by the way I want Rosicky on a 2-year extension, unless we are really getting Goetze.

  13. Big Al, get the tin helmet and aluminum neck brace – George is reloading.

    Interesting thoughts on Arshavin. Be back with my thoughts later on.

  14. Top, top class Big Al. Insightful, reflective and originality of thought.
    Most of us want our little Ruski to do well, none more so than George, but something is not quite right. Much of last year the excuse was he isn’t fit enough but even then he chipped in with key goals and assists. This year he looks well toned and buffed having shed at least 5lbs but he is playing with less conviction than last year. I think he knows that Gervinho on the left has pushed him down in the pecking order and it has affected his game. But as a senior player he should be contributing more. Why not? I don’t know.

    Maybe George has the answer. 🙂

  15. gooner – another 2 years for Rosicky! Unfortunately hes injured again now so i cant see that happening. Maybe he might like to move to Borussia Mönchengladbach so that we can get Reus? 😉

    Its Reus V’s Goetze in the bundesliga this weekend …..

    Mexican midfielder agrees deal with us???????????

  16. How easy is it to come on for 10 minutes here and 5 minuites there and make a significant contribution each time?

    I made the point the other day, that at least AA has the balls to keep trying the right passes and movement’s.

    He has admitted himself he is not, as hasn’t been, in great form, but the easy thing to do would be to play the safe option everytime as to not make a mistake.

    The bigger man keeps trying the riskier, but potentially more rewarding action.

    By the way – his contribution of goals and assists during this period of fallow form is pretty impressive.

  17. Matt a very nice avator and good comments to go with it.

  18. I fancied a change on the Avatar, and loved that pic, although based on today’s post maybe I should of stuck with Andrey!

  19. I think it’s the most negative blog I’ve done so far, so I hope it was at least fair.

    Not sure about the point on game time – his minutes in the league this season amount to about to about six whole games, with one goal and no assists to show for it. Extrapolated over a season you’d get about six goals, no assists.

    Now, I know he’s only had snippets here and there, but when a player loses his place he should be impressing in those spells because they’re all he’ll get. On what other basis should he be reselected?

    We’re not talking about a youngster here, vying for a role in the team for the first time; this guy was rated the sixth best player on the planet in ’08.

    I was a bit disingenuous in the post; actually I don’t like seeing players talk themselves down as often as Arshavin does. As early as spring 2010, aged 29, he was saying his pace was gone, just a year after we signed him. Players usually get sent to the sports psychologist for less.

  20. Or psychiatrist

  21. AA has never been lightning quick, but he always had a good turn of pace which would take away from defenders over a short space. Coupled with his strength on the ball he was very effective. I wonder is he has just lost a yard of this initial pace and he is struggling to adapt his game?

  22. well, i think everyone knows, arshavin himself included, that he has to raise his game, that he is under a lot of competition. no one knows how he ought to do it though.

    confidence, form are things you can’t control or give on a silver platter.

    yes, he is not playing in his best position. but to play him in his best position would require a very big sacrifice for everyone else, because it requires a change in system, and you have to admit, our current system isn’t not working.

    so you would have to take a big risk, for one player, hoping that will give you the old player he was.

    would you do it? to be honest with you, i won’t. not when i see other players doing well. it just doesnt justify the change, especially when you are not sure if it will even work. you can try it in less significant games like the cup games and the olympiakos game. but we are under so much pressure in the premiership now that we can’t afford any more mistakes, any more experiments.

    at the moment, it seems as if the solution to arshavin’s woes is to build the team around him (in the sense we switch to a formation that best suits him). there is no justification for that at the moment. you can build a team around fabregas, you can build a team around rvp. but not the current arshavin.

  23. It’s a myth that Arshavin played centrally for Russia and Zenit. He has almost always been a wide player, except when he played as a centre-forward for us for half a season!

  24. korihikage – That pretty much sums up his situation to be honest. And he has competition for his place now. I think he will be sold in the summer.

  25. Apart from those who left for “better offers”, which generally don’t pan out (the curse), there are many noted players of all ages, types and positions, quite a lot for the past Wenger decade, decent types who just didn’t quite work out although they ticked most boxes and we enjoyed having them around for two or three seasons.

    Mostly they left in two ways: (a) couldn’t get a handle on EPL, the rough and tumble and crap refs and decided they were homesick (b) dropped out of regular first team action, but good enough for top teams/leagues elsewhere. Many were very good in spells though.

    If Andrei is one of these, he wouldn’t be the first. C’est la vie.

    But in the meantime, we should not forget he just about led the way in assists last season, and probably the one before (even when we thought he didn’t play well). He’s a clever player and put’s a smart ball into the box. Problem is, his performances are declining, his defence is anaemic, and his best period was in fact the ‘half-season’ he joined.

  26. Kind of a support striker on the inside left is where he played I think, Markus. I think he’s much wider in our system, but he does have freedom even there.

    Probably true Matt and Korihikage.

    Anyway, I think I’m hard on him because we all know what he can do.

  27. Sorry, not Matt, although I did like his post; I meant Andy.

  28. I submit m’lord that our bid for what’s his name that didn’t work because Chelsea got there bigger was a direct replacement for shhh … you know who. I suspect m’lord that his unfortunate turn of form and fortunes was precisely because he knows this. I have the distinct feeling he’s all but gone, but if not, and I would not request his departure, um … yet, we are using him as a bit player until Arsene identifies the next clever and unusual innovator in and around the box.

  29. OOU – “Anyway, I think I’m hard on him because we all know what he can do

    Yeah, it does make it more frustrating eh? When he comes on I am often uplifted thinking he will change the game for us, only to see him plod about and struggle to impose himself on the game. Shame.

  30. Tis a tricky one.

    From my parochial perch I have imagined that the Prince of St.Petersburg’s training regime at Zenit resembled the tea sipping genius of Inzamam-ul-Haq. Occasionly he’d get up, kick a ball, that kind of thing. Probably not the best preparation for a life of gr*t and grime in the the PL. I thought of Arshavin when the manager was talking of Chamberlain’s training regime. And maybe he hass lost that ‘half-yard’?

    No injuries yet in the wide forward areas, the Xmas & New Year fixture cruch looms before us…he’ll get the games and if he can pull out the assists and goals of last season it’d be great though I don’t think that’ll stop the moaning (it didn’t last year!).

    Maybe it makes sense that Arshavin isn’t playing into the ‘red’ at the moment. That Yossi got the start against the Oilers. Gervais will have a month or so off, someone could incure the wrath of the injury gods. Is this rotation?

  31. Finsbury – “Is this rotation?

    I don’t thnik so. He has done nothing this season to suggest that he deserves a place in the starting 11.

  32. Arsene is probably mulling as we are. It could go either way. A burst of form wouldn’t surprise me at all, in fact it would be in character. A fading of the glow also wouldn’t (what’s happening now). Simply, he’s not coping well with decent competition for his place. Not many do.

  33. OneOfUs: “about six whole games, with one goal and no assists to show for it. Extrapolated over a season you’d get about six goals, no assists.”

    So are you expecting RVP to score 90 goals this season?

    No, game math does not work like that. Six appearances by 15 minutes don’t make a game. Why don’t you judge any starting players by their starting 15 minutes only on the pitch?

    And, Bolton in CC – that was a whole game, with one goal and one assist in it. So what happened after that?

  34. Zim – “Simply, he’s not coping well with decent competition for his place. Not many do.

    I agree with you first point. But not your second. A top player would react and up his game to competition. It is that very thing which can keep a sides standards high. Theo (who I have often been critical of) is a great recent example of this. He knows that a couple of dodgy games could see him lose his place and he is currently enjoying his best run of form since arriving at the club.

    Competetion for places is a positive, and if AA can’t deal with that he he is already on the road out of the club.

  35. OneOfUs: Re 90 goas of RVP: I meant rather 40, but you got the point.

  36. Interesting thoughts, OoU.

    ZP, insightful suspicion re: Mata.

    Fins, I don’t think it is a matter of gr*t, as it were, because he is actually a pretty tough character who has shrugged off minor injuries and never really been seriously injured here despite the physicality of our league. He might have been pampered by Zenit, but he’s had quite some time to adjust to the training regime here and does look fitter this year.

    I think he needs games and to be given a freer creative role in games like his successful outing in the CC earlier. He could have played there or as the second striker v. ManCity and I think it was an opportunity lost that he might have relished against a top side. Another opportunity is there v. Olympiakos. At the very least it might let him play himself into better form without damaging league or CL competitions. Likewise in the FA cup, we could take a risk of playing him and/or Theo Walcott centrally in our current or another formation.

    But what I don’t agree with OoU on is the idea that playing him as the 1 in a 451 or tip of the 433 was actually giving him a real opportunity to play in the position most suited to the role he had at Zenit. And frankly he tried hard, in my memory, and sacrificed for the team despite it not suiting him at all, particularly in a physical league like ours. The fact that we had to play him there was a problem of not having a backup for RvP available. Arshavin was never really meant to be such a player. I don’t remember exactly the circumstances but wasn’t RvP’s ankle injured in silly friendly v. Italy, Bendtner was out and we hadn’t replaced Adebayor or purchased Chamakh that summer or a striker in January? Maybe we could learn from that and be prepared to enhance our attack in some fashion.

  37. @Zim, objection your honour. Speculation.


    Nah, I kinda think he’s handed in his notice at this stage too. Maybe even last season.

  38. goonerandy: Theo “knows that a couple of dodgy games could see him lose his place”

    And AA knows that even a decent game does not make him a starter. That’s the way it’s goes with Wenger, he fixed his first squad and as far as all firststarters are not injured, no other player get a chance to start ever.

  39. 444 – I don’t agree with that to be honest. If AA perform when given the chance he will be in the team before long. Gervihno has been a bit patchy of late, but AA is not really giving the manager any decisions to make with his own form. AOC on the other hand is making the most of every small chance he gets. He will force his way into the side on performnces.

  40. 444: to be fair, looking at how theo and gervinho have been playing, you would want to go with them, because you know it works. and we are playing massive catch-up at the moment, and i would understand if arsene doesnt want to rotate too much. as we saw after the fulham game: if he had rotated and we only got a draw, people would have criticised him for not sticking to a winning team. hindsight is always 20/20.

    and before someone goes off on the tirade that gervinho is not playing well. he is. he just isn’t putting the chances away. but you have to admit, when he is on the ball, you feel that he can make something happen. and you feel that the defender he is facing feels the same way too.

    and that is why he is first choice at the moment.

    i have this feeling that arsene wants to play him as much as he can, before he goes off to the acn.. because frankly, we won’t know what happens after that.

  41. Limestonegunner
    re: RvP ankle injury
    as I recall, it was Italy and a friendly – Chennili (their CB) was the culprit.

    Great post Big Al.
    As stated above, Andrey is a big moment player. From his first match at Anfield,
    we saw something special.

    If Andrey had maintained most of that scoring form forward, likely it would be RvP searching for minutes.
    Imo, Andrey lives too close to his fears. Uncharacteristically, he fumbles on parts of the game that are foundation to football: receive – control – pass; NOT HIS FINISHING. This can be attributed to lack of concentration.

    As YW states so eloquently, “And then there’s the media. The pressure for a player or manager to prove his worth consistently, and the illogical way in which, say, one subdued performance can tarnish the ten great ones that preceded it.”

    Andrey has plenty of magic in the tank BUT it appears that some profound moment needs to surface to rejuvenate this talent (and soon).

    I’ve always believed that one aspect of being a great manager was the ability to bring out the best in players.

  42. ‘I’ve always believed that one aspect of being a great manager was the ability to bring out the best in players.’

    Arsession: are you hinting at something?

  43. Goonerandy @ 12:19 pm


    Our manager spent big bucks (for Arsenal) to acquire this player and has always shown endless patience…………but I believe Andrey has used up most of his 9 lives with Arsene.

    Can anyone forget the 2nd goal (his score) v. Barca at the Emirates?

  44. Arsession: that second goal v barca IS for me the best goal we have ever scored since the Invincibles. but nowadays, it is painful to say that, to see that goal again. so i hope we score an even better goal to replace this one.

  45. GA

    AA hasn’t really been in the staring eleven since the turn of the year, I guess what I’m trying to say is, isn’t this what everyone wants. A squad with good players, those in form or whatever get the starts?
    AA still contributed in the second half of last season as a ‘squad’ player. An outstanding effort at home gainst Sunderland where others disappered or ran back into the Arsenal.

    According to Theo’s friendly critics, he’s already had more then two poor games in a row this season. I like AOC’s latest comments. Seems like he knows his game more then most.. An AM? Anywhere across the three? Why not.

  46. Korihikage @1:00 pm

    I do not hold Arsene accountable for the current performance of Andrey; and our manager is not perfect.

    The life of a manager is endless decisions relating to players and club. Our manager has made his share of poor decisions…….which is not to detract from the big picture.

  47. you know, i won’t be worried about arshavin’s form right now.. he just needs to start delivering in january, when we need another push.

    at the moment, i feel that theo, gervinho, benayoun have enough to do the job.

    no point having everyone peaking at the same time; the season is a marathon. BUT that peak must come.

  48. OOU, interesting thoughts on Arshavin, especially the interview of Jonathan Wilson.

    There is something wrong with Arshavin, he is capable of the most bizarre tricks, some amazing finishing and at the same time, he can disappoint and frustrate. I don’t get the “played out of position” point, he is given enough freedom to cut in, because you can’t find a more fluid and interchanging front three in the Premier League than Arsenal.

    I think this is caused by being pushed to second position on the left wing. I think after the December run, we will see more rotation in the squad and Arshavin will boost up his performances as he gets more game time. I am sure he will get more stats to his name come the end of the season. Till May, I will reserve judgement on the Russian because he is the most unpredictable(for the Opposition) player we have got.

    I will support Arshavin throughout this season, I am sure someone else will over here (Looks over at George)!

  49. arsession,

    agreed. the difference between real life, computer games, and the media’s fantasy is that real human beings are involved.

    as rinus michels said: football is so unpredicatable because you have 22 players making decisions, doing things that change the game continuously. (i would add now: 22 players and 3 match officials)

    it is not really as simple as just arshavin showing up. others have to read what he is trying to do. defenders can neutralise him. that is the reality.

  50. @ Korihikage 1:03 pm

    mine too……..any time we can beat Barca, for me its a special moment for the club, players,

    sadly, the ManCity goal Tuesday night was a stark reminder…..of that Barca moment.

  51. Finsbury – “AA hasn’t really been in the staring eleven since the turn of the year, I guess what I’m trying to say is, isn’t this what everyone wants. A squad with good players, those in form or whatever get the starts

    I agree 100%.

  52. Posted on behalf of Fungunner

    ACLF-ers, have you ever wondered:

    What it is like to be a youth player trying to make it at a Premier League club?

    How distant are you from the manager?

    Do you ever get to chat to the superstars? And do they remember what it was like when they were in the youth team, playing to empty seats, or out on unglamourous loan?

    What is it like seeing fellow youth players forge ahead, or fall away?

    How do you cope when injuries strike, or your form goes and you can’t get it back?

    How do you feel about your agent – is he your best friend or just another person you have to try to impress?

    How does being with a big club affect your relationship with your mates from school who might be unemployed, or doing ordinary jobs?

    And what’s it like to be let go?

    If you have wondered anything like this, now’s your chance to find out. I’m going to be interviewing an ex-Man City youth team goalkeeper who is now a first-team player in a Norwegian side. He was at City for two years before being sent on loan and finally being released. So send any questions you have to me at by Friday December 9th. Thanks.

    And if all this sounds familiar, it’s because I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago and the main question was – can we know more about the player? Well, now you do.

  53. !AA still contributed in the second half of last season as a ‘squad’ player. An outstanding effort at home gainst Sunderland where others disappered or ran back into the Arsenal.”

    That’s what I think.
    As for the rest of you.Pfffft

  54. You find out who your friends are in hard times.
    I love the little fellow .And I have stuck my fingers in my ears (again)Lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala

  55. He’s a sneaky fucking russian, happy to sit back and do fuck all and earn between £50;000 – £70,000 a week. He’s had his chances, OK he started fine and then did fuck all, then he scored the winner against Barca……….. what else has he done? Need to get rid of, buy someone like Gotze and Ashavin can go off and play in the German league or even back to Russia. He’s earned his millions here, he’ll be happy with that.

  56. “I had the fear he would never get back to his best before his last surgery because he didn’t look comfortable to me with his ankle. Now, I am convinced he will come back to his full potential.

    “He is going through a very difficult moment just now because he has put so much dedication into his rehab and to be injured straight away again is very difficult to take for him. He has been out many times like that.”

    Le Boss is optimistic about Diaby.So am I.

  57. Northbank1969
    Absolute drivel.I am disappointed with you.Piss poor post.

  58. Great post OOU. I do know if this is accurate but I think he is our highest paid player or near the top and money is always an issue for our club. He is also our player with the most experience, captain of a big international team and outside of RVP the player with the biggest world wide reputation. We need him to be more then a squad player. Situation needs to get settled one way or another. Either he starts producing or he gets moved and we need to use his wages to bring in someone who will.

  59. @George
    Sometimes a piss poor post gets to the ntty gritty of the problem.
    I used to really like the ‘sneaky little russian’, he looked like he had a good sense of humour, and I just love his grin, but, but, but, he just isn’t doing it now for the team…. lazy or unfit, both are the same, he needs to go.
    I know you’re in love with the guy but sometimes,
    lovers can be unfaithful, you need to accept this and move on to another. 😦

  60. I was disappointed to read the outrageous comments of Jeremy Clarkson: “Shoot the strikers”? Not fair at all – Park and Chamakh have hardly played, and RVP is on a dream run.

  61. Northbank1969,No No No,He fixed my broken heart after Dennis left.I refuse to cut him adrift.
    He is neither lazy or unfit.
    He averages more yards per minute than all current first team starters ,bar Arteta.How can that be lazy?
    That he runs forward ,rather than backwards should be utilised better.

  62. As a display of support,ta ra

  63. @George
    If he averages more yards per minute than any other player then surely, he should be doing better. I’m still of the opinion that he should go. Sorry mate……….

    And on a different note, I’ve noticed some people saying that with hindsight we should have rotated
    for the Fulham game.
    Last week before the fulham game I suggested that the CC team should be played against fulham
    because the first XI were tired, and to play the first XI against City because a win would be important. But no, everyone said not possible. My view was
    that the CC team could beat Fulham (fresh legs) and the first XI would have beaten City…. cest la vie

  64. George,

    You have my agreement on Diaby. It all comes down to assessments of potential and that potential is obviously to be evaluated by those with medical expertise and/or first hand exposure to the rehabilitating player(s)!

    Easy to side with Arsene here: at least for us!

  65. Chriss,I have no problem that you think he should go.That’s you opinion and is as valid,if not more ,than mine.
    But to suggest he is happy to fleece the club and scuttle off back to Russia is a bit naughty.More than a bit ,as it goes!

  66. NB69,

    The call on the Fulham and Citeh selections was a tough one and could have gone wrong either way. However, I appreciate the frustration when a view is ignored and then proven potentially accurate.

    Anyway, on to Wigan with all gunners blazing, hopefully.

  67. Northbank1969
    But would that not have left the first team tired for tomorrow?

  68. @George

    ok….. naughty, but perhaps correct


    Biensur, on to Wigan

  69. @George
    Swings and roundabouts……….. I don’t think Wigan are going to be a big problem. And next week, Olympiakos, secondXI will do for that game and a rest for the first team to then play Everton who are always a threat…….. but what do I know, I’m always stoned. 🙂

  70. Oi NB69! just because you’re always stoned, doesn’t mean you don’t know shit..! In fact, often the opposite, certainly when it comes to creativity… Maybe Arsh could do with a few fatty boom-batties? Might give him that extra unpredictability again..? Wenger’s probably on that already though, he does ‘know’ after all. 🙂

  71. Hindsight….
    The City match showed that we have players on the bench that can deliver a performance
    such as : Ox, Squill, Dj, Coq, Frim, Benayoun

    The above players along with Park and Chamakh should have been utilized prior to the Fullham match so that there is more (recent playing time) balance in the line up……………………………especially in attack and midfield.

  72. @ Korihikage 1: 13 pm


    “it is not really as simple as just arshavin showing up. others have to read what he is trying to do. defenders can neutralise him. that is the reality.”

    Players like RvP and Arshavin need service and in the City match it was obviously missing.

  73. Geo, have you seen his website? Arshavin is already on the fatty-boom-batties.

  74. Arsesession@ 4:01:

    Those players you mentioned put in a performance but if you look at what’s happened for the last 2 years when we have anyone besides our top 11 in the squad the results have been miserable. That cc team as it was constructed played well but was always going to have a very tough time scoring. Do you really think arsene feels like he can rotate given what he has seen when he does. We are fighting for our CL lives this season.

  75. “when we have anyone besides our top 11 in the squad the results have been miserable.”
    Yes Bill ,like the night we spanked Spurs at the Lane(Arshavin master class as a sub if memory serves me) with the second string?
    So wrong again mate.
    But I do think in general you have a fair point.

  76. If you at,ebthinking about last yrs CC game then yes you are right I forgot about that one.

    Bottom line is significant rotation has not really been possible so far. Nonetheless I do think we need to start rotating 1 player at a time more then we have been. We have 3 good cb so tv could go to the left or sit out on occasion. Same with mert or kos. Le coq could spell song and benayoun could sub for arteta or Ramsey and Ox or Andrey could play in the wide attacking positions as long as the rest of the first 11 is available. At least I would think that would work anyway. Right now it looks like we can’t sit RVP in any game we need to get a result.

  77. @Bill
    I don’t think we will be clawing for our CL lives. We have a stronng side with depth. The problem is rotating. This is the perenial problem for AW, and is the same for every manager.
    If I had been AW, (but I am not), I would have put out Fabi, squi, ox, beny, Coq etc against Fulham and then played RVP, Theo, Song etc against City.
    However, in the CL the strongest side will always be fielded (apart from against Olympiakos) and we have a good chance of reaching the final this year.

  78. Will always love our AA.
    Going thru a lull ’cause Gerv’s the preferred option? maybe
    He’ll come good. Season’s too long

    I miss Mozart too.
    Hope he plays in Greece
    With AA

  79. Arshavin may not have been played centrally at Zenith, but he was a striker and had no defensive responsibilities, other than pressing. If I were Arsene I’d start him upfront against lesser teams like Fullham while giving Robin a rest. I just don’t buy all this talk about him losing his confidence and having no rythm. One can’t really expect a player who has always played as a striker to chip in defensively and do a good job. That he has done so on many occassions just shows what a great player he is.

  80. I feel as though there are certain players in all of sports that thrive on being the “main man” and succeed when in that role and given that responsibility. But some of these very same players do not have the mental make-up to fight for a place. I believe Arshavin is one of these players that obviously begins to doubt himself in this instance and it leads to a gradual downward spiral because his confidence disappears.

    I do think he could thrive again if he knew he was the main man (or one of the main men) and that it would only take a few good perfromances for him to realize he is still the great player that he once was. I would love to see him get his head sorted, but the evidence is pointing to the opposite at this time. It pains me to say this because he is one of my favorite players when he is up for it.

  81. Viceologist, good post.

    It’s only speculation on my part, but I can’t help thinking that Wenger’s decision to leave Arshavin out of the starting line-up for the Chelsea FA Cup semi-final (’09) must have been a big blow to Andrei. I believe the idea was to save him for the mid-week match that followed – if I remember correctly, that was the match at Liverpool in which he scored four (but we only drew). As others have pointed out, AA is a big-game player. It would be wonderful to see him return to his former glory. I’m hopeful, but not optimistic.

  82. Northbank @ 5:01:

    “I don’t think we will be clawing for our CL lives.”

    Really?? Everything we have seen so far this season argues against that idea. We have never had a start like this year and there has never been as much competition for those slots. I really believe we can finish 3rd or certainly 4th if we play to our potential consistently, but that is not a given. We will not make the top 4 if Arsene and/or the team start to take games for granted or believe we are entitled to one of those slots.

    The CC team may well have had a better chance of beating Man City then Fulham. City probably had the same level of intensity as ManU did against Palace or as we did in a couple of those first round FA cup games last season.

  83. Big Al,

    Thanks for the post. Exceptional quality as always.

    In a way the Arshavin situation vindicates the Wenger policy of not offering long term contracts to players over 30. Some attacking players have still performed consistently over the age of 30, but they were very exceptional players to start off with. I am thinking here of Giggs, Bergkamp, Zola, Shearer. Arshavin to me does not have physical attributes to allow him to dominate in a game. He is a good finisher and has good dribbling skills, but requires exceptional touch and timing before anything comes off for him. If he is below par, he loses the ball and nothing comes off. Can he regain that touch ? Who knows ? But I don’t think age should be a factor here. There again, one can see the frustrated calls for alternatives, who can unlock games when things don’t come off for him. Patience is a luxury we can’t afford it seems.

  84. Muppet ,I am not having it that Giggs and Shearer were better than Andrei.

  85. I quite agree George. Point well made.

  86. ACLF today has been harrowing for me today.
    I feel like I am in a cage and being poked with sharp sticks.

  87. Thankyou for the very entertaining post this morning Yogi. The information from Zenit while Arshavin was playing for them was especially interesting. It makes me think why Arsenal signed him in the first place with Arshavin displaying such a delicate mind set to the extent that Zenit was not playing him. Psychologically, Arshavin is indeed a very challenging player. Unlock his blocks which seemingly are preventing him from expressing himself would see a very talented player. It has the feel of an individual struggling with self belief which Yogi suggested in his post. In particular, the apparent negative self-talk. Confidence is such a frail element of Human psychology.

  88. You a gorilla George ?

  89. Well BOLLOCKS to that draw huh!? Spain, Croatia and Italy! Luck o’ the fucking Irish my arse!! So should be a fun 3 games before we get sent home with our tails between our legs, all the while singing “Ole, Ole Ole Ole, Ole, Ole!” like we had just won the bloody Euros!! And yes I will be there, and yes I will be siinging too!!

  90. International football is tedious in the extreme .
    Poor sandard and all you get is trepidation ,as your teams players might get injured.

  91. Bill @ 4:17 pm

    “Do you really think arsene feels like he can rotate given what he has seen when he does.”

    Bill in the past 3 seasons did our manager ever rest any starting XI player from a league match? Also, for the past 3 seasons, we’ve always had a large segment of players injured.
    This year is different. (knock on wood)

    Arsene was forced to play Jenkinson, a big risk on the surface, but this kid did hold his own and Arsenal survived.

    Fulham fixture arrived, Arsene didn’t rotate. Song – Arteta – Ramsey looked lethargic; any two from Coq, Frim, and Benayoun could have played and held their own for the same result.

    ditto for our front line that match……
    As it was, RvP-Gervinho-Theo did not score, so their absence wouldn’t have changed the result.

    City, 2 days later and our team was patched up in midfield and attack with players who have rarely seen any minutes in the past 2 months. If Coq, Frim, Ben had 3 or 4 starts under their belt b4 this match, we might have seen better chemistry and some service to Park, Chamakh, and Ox.

    If Arsene intends to contend for the league title or other silverware, he has no choice but to
    rotate. However, rotated players need to feel they are playing in a mix with usual starters, and not a line up of reserves.

    Ramsey, Song, Arteta, RvP, Theo, Gervinho need regular breaks or by February, their performances will be lack luster due to fatigue or just not available.

  92. Limestonegunner

    Whatever one says about his indifferent form, defensive effort, and so on, I credit Arshavin with producing two among the most exciting and thrilling moments for us during our post-Invincibles period. The four goals at Anfield and, and even greater moment, the second goal against Barcelona with that exquisite shot on the first touch into the far corner. Magnificent.

  93. What a fuckin draw for the boys in green in the euros, we will breeze through that group!!

  94. Limestonegunner

    Both goals in that game were so superb. Come on, you deserve it–watch them again! Delicious!

  95. Arsesession

    I agree with everything you say. What rotation arsene usually does has the B team feel rather then rotating people into the regular squad. Other then some cc games the b team has not done well. CC performances have not really predicted the same level of performance either in the PL or CL for the players or the group in most cases in the past. The only logical explanation why Arsene does not rotate the way u suggest is that he does not feel confident that the “b team” players will not hurt our chance to get a result. If you have another explanation I would be interested.

  96. Look what i just found 🙂

  97. Limestonegunner

    No sweat, George. Gains made a nice supportive post above too. Frankly, there might be something to the fact that he needs to feel he is one of the main men. I was hoping that he would adopt that mantle more with the departure of Cesc and Nasri, but RvP seems to have seized it and Arshavin has withdrawn to the bench. I think he had embraced the responsibility a bit when he was giving direction to younger players and running around effectively in a free role across the front three in some earlier games but he hasn’t been consistent and had some awful stars and sub-appearances.

    He could still be great for us. I hope he gets some chances to show his quality soon and gets out of this funk. Maybe a bit of man management/arm around the shoulder needed. Or is it too late?

  98. Bill,Arsesession.
    I bet you two would excel at Champ Man.And know old Arsene into a cocked hat

  99. LG ,My arm is available to him .He need only ask.

  100. george if it makes you feel better i dont want the sneaky little russian to go… seriously i dont, i like him as he has some skills in his locker(and a few bottles of vladimar vodka) just isnt a starter anymore but always worth having a player like him in and around the team.

  101. this is a good post..

    arshavin is world class..

    i think for zenit and russia-he was the individual….he was the one everyone looked to and he thrived off that..

    here hes not…hes part of a team and everything doesnt go through him so hes not as comfy and it bothers him..i think for years he was the golden bollox and all of a sudden hes in cecs shadow and now robins… still a good player and capable of the sublime but without the consistency hes had in previuos years..

    when we first signed him we did all look to him…we were out of sorts struggling outside of the top 4 incapable of scoring and his signing was a signal of intent..a big name player, voted 6th in the worlds best..he was the great hope so to speak…he came, he thrived, he produced…then as times gone on hes been asked to play sidekick and its not going down well….

    hes still capable of contributing as we saw last year..didnt really look at the races but his quality shone and his goals and assists were impressive..but he is starting to decline now..

    whether its his age, hes bi polar, not suited to wengers management, or just bored, i dunno..but his futures looking bleaker and i dunno if he wants to turn it around..i think he wants out..wenger knows hes not happy but hes too good not to play at all… but AA knows hes too good to be told what to do..and i also think if it wasnt for cesc and nasri both leaving wenger would have tried to offload him in the summer..cant see him going in january cos of the acn and we do need him although it’ll be interesting to see what happens next summer

    in the meantime i hope he finds his mojo cos if he does the combination between him and robin will be explosive..but i am starting to doubt whether he wants to find it…

  102. Limestone – the video of the goals against Barca have just made my evening. The hairs at the back of my neck stood up I tell you. The atmosphere in the stadium was electric. I even plugged the laptop into the surround system just to listen to that atmosphere again.

  103. JJ, good post comrad. see i am a beleiver that if a player has produced quality then he can again(although a certain spaniard is doing his darn best to disprove this theory) AA has which is why i’m also optimistic about Chamakh as he has produced quality before…. then there are players that we are still waiting to see produce like the Bendtner’s and the Denilson’s and the Vela’s.

  104. Limestonegunner

    Darius, it was one of the great nights; wish I could have been in the stadium! Even watching on tv it was clear how outrageously good the atmosphere was. Glad everyone is enjoying that memory. I believe we will have a couple big European nights to come this season. The most inspiring memory for me this season was the celebration of the team together in front of the away fans at Stamford Bridge. The video of MeanLean’s “COYGunners” song shows some delightful footage–and of course the music and lyrics are wonderful.

    Worth watching/listening again if you didn’t catch it two days ago when Mean Lean posted it here:

  105. Clerkenwell Gooner

    I have always wondered about AA’s fitness, he is so small, what is his lung capacity like? That is, does he get completely knackered during matches, and have to stroll about for a bit to recover?

    He came up in the dark days following the fall of the USSR in 1991, his father died when he was a nipper, and possibly his nutrition was deficient as a child/teenager during economic hard times (estimated 50% of economy switched to barter in that period), hence his diminished stature.

    Not sure if such a start can be 100% overcome physically as an adult, Arsenal fitness regime, vitamin supplements etc notwithstanding.

    In one of those “meet the player” interviews at, he talked about Lars von Trier’s Dancing in the Dark,, starring Björk as a blind woman with a miserable life who manages to keep it together because of her love of musicals. Andrei said it made him cry. (I am not making this up.)

    Hence, I suspect AA might just be a little too “out there” for his colleagues on the team (although maybe that’s doing them an injustice), who’ve probably never heard of Björk, Lars von Trier, or South Pacific.

    (He also said, in response to a question about where he would go if he could time travel, that it would be to any time when his father was still alive.)

    There is also the small matter of his degree-level qualification in clothing design (he designed the t-shirt under his Arsenal jersey that he revealed when he scored vs Barça).

    He is an enigma, to say the least, and certainly not your Mr Average in any profession.

    I can easily see him being kept on under a Rosicky-style play-and-you-earn contract, because he is valuable in terms of his failure to be intimidated by the big guns such as Barça, and AW always prefers smart players, which AA evidently is.

    One poor game at Fulham does not mean he won’t help out during the long grind through the winter months, which starts now.

    Everyone bangs on about the miracle of David Silva surviving the rough waters of the Premier League, but AA is an equally tough little unit. He needs to get in the goals again, show Chamakh and Park how it’s done.

    But maybe I’m just a Cock-Eyed Optimist

  106. Limestonegunner

    Lovely post Clerkenwell. Is that video interview with him still available on ArsenalPlayer? Would enjoy watching that.


    what a draw to irland. all formidable opponents. group o death, if i ever saw one. TRAPS got his work cut out. and the lads.

  108. Limestone – I think the atmosphere at the Emirates is improving – and the fans are getting into the mix and understanding they have a key role to play. I sat at the clockend last week and I had to shame the guys behind me to scream their lungs out for the Arsenal as they were busy discussing non-football matters instead of joining in with the singing and cheering.

    After I turned around and screamed “FFS – go talk that shit at home, that team down there needs your support” – they adjusted their stance and true to form, within 5 mins of that we’d equalized and they were dancing.

    I did get the feeling though that the Emirates still gets a lot of “tourists” – just there for a day out sort of thing, but think they’re a bit posh to shout. Of course there are those who just bitch whenever something goes wrong.

    One guy to my left let out a loud scream a couple of times Arteta losts the ball, but he was the first to scream at him to track back – and also the first to celebrate when he got the ball back screaming “go on my son”. Now that’s a shameless supporter.

  109. arshavins fitness is fine..hes no diaby..

    im not sure on this off the top of my head but ive never known him to have a long layoff since hes been here..

    if he hasnt played hes been on the bench, i can count the amount of times hes been out of the squad altogether on one hand.. and george has found a stat that says arsh covers alot of ground so fitness aint an issue for me..hes made of iron…its a mental issue..

    dukey, yeah its a wierd situation with AA cos i sometimes think lets just sell him for a good deal while we can and then i think nah hes shit hot lets hang on to hi cos if he strings 5 top games together we win all 5…it all depends on him whether he wants to stay i suppose..form is temporary class is permanent isnt it?? but if hes not with it i doubt that form will come back..

  110. Limestonegunner

    The guy to your left clearly just lives and dies moment to moment with the Arsenal at the stadium. That’s how some on the blog are too, you know? So down after a loss that they can’t help themselves feeling and sounding gloomy, but equally thrilled in ecstatic joy when we play well and win.

    Even from this distance it seems the home crowd is chanting and singing a lot more this season. Glad about that. Makes for more fun and more amenable refereeing!

    Hopefully, I ‘ll get a chance to experience the new improved Emirates atmosphere some time this season, perhaps in the spring during our run-in.

  111. The atmosphere in the stadium has improved cos there is a bit of fear in the crowd, a bit of “what the f*** can we expect today” and the certainty that we are a team who needs to fight every game to earn the result. It does not actually do any harm that plenty of clubs now arrive expecting to depart with at least a point.

    How different from the tooth sucking, for gods sake when are we gonna get our opening goal of a couple of seasons back.

    Admittedly the plastics are struggling but they’ll get there – if they persevere

  112. RAP IS CRAP
    never got it, never will.
    any news on the di natale rumor we started yesterday?

  113. Great article, OOU. It’s hard to know what to think about Andrei. I suspect a combination of the factors covered by you and korihikage account for his poor form.

    I never saw him at Zenit, so everything I am about to say is based on what I’ve seen in the PL.
    I think AW bought him because of his unpredictability and differentness, but when it doesn’t work out he looks like he is out of sync with his teammates. He is essentially a free spirit who has made great efforts to be a team player and improve the defensive side of his game, but the awareness and the team play just don’t come naturally to him.
    He also seems to me ferociously and excessively self-critical. Having high standards for yourself is well and good, but he needs to give himself a pat on the back every now and then. Never ever taking satisfaction from any aspect of your performance is destructive.

    I do think he is brave and a hard worker, but courage is not a long-term substitute for confidence, which he has lacked for a long time. His numbers will decide if he goes or stays, if he starts or is a substitute (which is how I like him best) although I think AW would have a hard time letting him go – he wanted the player for ages and saying goodbye to a dream is always difficult.

  114. @ Anicoll5 | December 2, 2011 at 9:18 pm
    ha ha – so true.

    @ Darius

    At the Marseille game, I was sitting in front of two blokes who did the exact same thing – arrived after kick-off, nattered on about non-Arsenal, non-football stuff, occasionally breaking off to say, “Come on (insert player’s name here), do something!”. And of course they left before the end as well. I think in retrospect that had a bearing on why I was disappointed by the atmosphere at my first CL game.

  115. daruis that just sounds like a regular caught in the moment supporter mate..

    football has that affect…its like a match day turretes i wouldnt expect the same type of incoherant rants heard on a match day to be heard in a restauraunt…

    when i used to go to games i was surrounded by the yessss, nooooo, yesssss, noooooo, god know, fuck of ref, tackle him, get stuck in, go on my son, get it back, clear it, man on, pass it, shoooooooot, yeaaaaaahhhhhhh….type of ppl..atmosphere was shit hot..

    its what its about..its why we go…the twelve man, part of the team…get emotional and scream your lungs out for the lads..push them on, make em hear you make em run and play, give them that extra 20% if they can find it themselves…..anyone who doesnt is a waste of ticket..

  116. Just saw Flamini in one of those videos posted above. Made me laugh. ha ha. What a prick, eh? And most Arsenal fans couldn’t get over him for 3 seasons. Every summers it was ‘Get someone like Flamini’. And now we’ve got twice the player in Song, than Flamini ever was. DM! Huh!

    And RVP is a legend. If he stays fit, soon, people will have rethink if they were right about claiming RVP never reaching the level of Bergkhamp. I think he can surpass it. Too much class.

    Only one Arsene Wenger!

  117. Arshavin needs to let the game come to him.I feel he Just need’s to get in the flow of the game, pass and move ex. He is obviously trying very hard (that lazy tag is bulls), maybe a little too hard. What I see him do when he come’s on is try to force the issue and get the ball taken from him, when in my opinion he should just make the simple pass.

    With all of that said, he was a handfull in the CC match. He was very good. So we can say its not about position but the fact is, he did well in a more favorable position.

    One more thing, we as supporters need to get a grip, quit expecting players to come on for 5 minutes and score 2 goals, and if they don’t they are just about fit for the dung heap.

    The reason why some players are not getting much playing time (to me) is because others are getting it done. That doesnt mean that others players are not able to do it. Sure maybe not as well but I remember a certain player scoring goals and winning penalties when he HAD to be the man.

    Well, that’s what I think.

  118. And to finish this retro trip with

  119. how about a bit of psychodelic a yogi….

  120. From yesterday’s post

    “Passenal, Are we cool?”

    Of course we are George!

    “2 questions – where are you from/are you now?”

    Jonny, North London – various/Edmonton

    Brave post OOU! Critical but not negative. I really hope he finds his mojo as it would be a shame for his time at Arsenal to end on a low. I’m sure he would want to find his form again in time for the Euro’s. Maybe he is feeling the pressure of that with it taking place in the Ukraine? His reaction to the draw is not exactly upbeat. Expect the worst and hope for the best! Maybe it’s a Russian thing?

  121. We need a striker… We need a striker…We need a striker… We need a striker…We need a striker… We need a striker…We need a striker… We need a striker…We need a striker… We need a striker…We need a striker… We need a striker…We need a striker… We need a striker…We need a striker… We need a striker…

  122. Theres nothing like bustin a few good tunes…. and that was nothing like busting a few good tunes…

  123. This has to best fookin Arsenal blog in the world. High quality football discussion and then fookin psychedelic music.

    Cheer up George. You couldn’t be at a better place.

  124. Love your taste in music, YW. I love the Wedding Present especially. One of the late and great John Peel’s favorite bands. Check out the Sea Lions new record. Think you’ll like it. And if you haven’t got the new Real Estate record “Days” you should get it.

  125. Right on, Paul N. I think Arshavin is a victim of Robin Van Persie’s scintillating form and Wenger’s apprehension over changing the 4-4-3 because of it. We may be doing a lot better defensively due to this line up, but I can’t help thinking how our attack would make us even tighter at the back like it was during the invincibles era. Two at the front with speed on the flanks and a tight midfield duo would suit us incredibly. I don’t even want to imagine how good Arsha would do if he were played in front of RVP. The passing combinations between him and Robin alone would put MU’s front two to absolute shame. Never mind the scoring opportunities that will arise from that partnership.

  126. great line-up: 3/3/4


    Sagna Kos TV5

    Wilshere Song Arteta

    Theo RVP Arsh Gervinho

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