Andrey Arshavin can finally end his Emirates nightmare

Andrey Arshavin copyright Glyn Trebble
Andrey Arshavin

Andrey Arshavin will finally end his Arsenal hell when his contract expires at the end of this season. The Russian has been a big disappointment since his big money move from Zenit St Petersburg four years ago.

The Sun provides some stats that don’t reflect well on Arshavin, and the value for money he has given the Gunners. He has played only 15 minutes first team football since the turn of the year and on his whopping wages of £95,000 a week, that averages to £30,000 for every minute on the pitch in 2013.

It could have all been so different though for the Russian playmaker. He arrived at Arsenal on transfer deadline day in 2009. The whole country knew his name after he was one of the players of the tournament at Euro 2008.

With England not at the finals, our fans sat back and enjoyed watching Europe’s elite without the stress of waiting for England to face a penalty shootout. Russia were one of the surprises of the tournament and Arshavin was the spark that took them to the semi finals.

Less than a year later, he scored four goals at Anfield in a thrilling 4-4 draw in one of his first games for the Gunners. That was about as good as it got for Arshavin, he has suffered a nightmare at the Emirates ever since. The fans have turned on him for his inconsistent displays in recent years and he was shipped out on loan back to Zenit for much of last season.

Booed by his own fans

Arshavin even had to suffer at the hands of his own fans when he was roundly booed by all corners of the Emirates. The fans turned on the Russian when he was subbed on for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 2-1 defeat to Man Utd in February 2012.

How can he be expected to perform to his best when he is treated in this way?

I feel for Arshavin and the way he has been perceived by the English media and Arsenal fans. Here is a player that starred in a European Championships. He scored four goals at Anfield. He is certainly not a bad player.

All his former team mates have won titles since leaving

He has been used as a scapegoat for Arsenal’s shortcomings in recent years. In 2009, when Arshavin decided to join the Emirates, he came into a squad that had Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Alexandre Song, Gael Clichy, Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor.

All top players and all have left in the four years since Arshavin joined. They have also all gone on to win a Championship in either England or Spain since departing, with Van Persie, Fabregas and Song’s arriving shortly.

Arshavin has been the most expensive player in Arsenal’s squad during his time at the club. With that has come a pressure and expectation that he be the man to deliver for the fans. Despite the players around him being downgraded year on year.

It is easier for Arshavin to create a chance for Robin Van Persie than it is to create one for Gervinho. Robin Van Persie will be in a more dangerous position and is always available to receive the ball.

It is easier for Arshavin to get on the end of Fabregas’ through ball and beat the keeper than it is for him to get on the end of a through ball from Ramsey. The pass from Fabregas will be weighted better and Arshavin can take the ball in his stride. From Ramsey’s pass he may have to check his run and let the keeper close down all the angles to save.

Is that because Arshavin is not a good player anymore? Or because he is surrounded by worse players than when he was when he joined the club?

Arsenal haven’t won a trophy since 2005 because they sell their best two or three players each summer. Arshavin has underperformed in his latter time at the club. But he has been in an underperforming side. The fans and media have made him the face of Arsenal’s demise. No wonder his confidence has gone and therefore so has his form.

A far better player than he has shown

He is now finally set to end his nightmare at Arsenal. The fans won’t be sad to see him go and neither will the media. I feel sorry for Arshavin and the fact that he will be remembered as a failure.

Barring his four at Anfield and the winner he scored against Barcelona in 2011 his legacy in England is that of an expensive flop. The Sun have him down as Arsenal’s worst ever signing.

I don’t dispute that he has been poor in recent seasons, but so has the whole team. The fact that he has been blamed as one of the main culprits in Arsenal’s decline is unfair.

He says he will not retire and his next destination is likely to be Russia, where he can force his way into Fabio Capello’s World Cup squad for next summer. We may yet see Arshavin light up another international tournament.

While Walcott will continue to score goals one week and trip over his own feet the next, and Gervinho will confuse everyone on the pitch and score from a mis-hit cross a couple of times a season.