Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughThe case for keeping Andrey - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough The case for keeping Andrey - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

The case for keeping Andrey

So it’s finally happened. Well not finally but near enough.

You didn’t have to be a genius to work out that the Andrey Arshavin train was soon to come off its tracks as his downward spiral of a career at Arsenal continued to seemingly worsen with every passing game.

The man went back to Zenit St. Petersburg on-loan on transfer deadline day for the Russian clubs for the remainder of the season.

Let’s face it, apart from the opening five months of his time at the Emirates, Arshavin’s spell as a Gunner, or rather Gooner to the man himself, has been a flop.

Don’t get me wrong he certainly had his moments. His four goal mauling at Anfield, his magical goal against Blackburn (the one that was actually his goal) and of course who could forget that winner against Barcelona which sent Arsenal fans all over the world into delirium.

But ultimately Arsene Wenger’s game of Russian roulette has come back to bite him, as the club’s record signing has, on the whole, been pretty disappointing. 

I personally, as I’m sure a lot of other fans are, am sad to see the meerkat leave. 

Yes it turns out he was a bit of a flash in the pan and never really took the Premier League by storm like predicted but he certainly had talent and, perhaps even more surprisingly, seemed a nice guy.

I’ll always think back to a moment at Fratton Park. 

Arshavin hit the deck inside the box and Portsmouth were harshly given a penalty against them. Whilst the Pompey players berated the referee, nobody but the television cameras had picked up the rather confused look across the Russian’s face as he wagged his finger as if to say ‘that’s soft, that wasn’t a penalty’. 

Such honesty was so refreshing, in a time where the Premier League played host to the weekly theatrics of Ronaldo, Drogba and even the likes of Gerrard and Rooney at times.

He just seemed an honest, nice guy off the field who would happily give his time up without complaining and was never too ‘big time’ for the fans.

It was exciting enough for fans with Arsenal just trying to sign the star of Euro 2008 never mind the sheer joy and relief that cascaded around the red part of North London when he actually put pen to paper, posed outside the Armoury with his shirt and uttered the sentence “I am Gooner,” which drove the Arsenal population wild.

After that famous quote, Wenger had seemingly brought in the latest cult hero but whilst he captivated his audience to begin with, Arshavin failed to live up to the hype.

I’m sad to see him go but you just can’t blame him for moving.

He stated right at the beginning of his tenure with the club that one day he’d return home to his beloved Zenit.

Now who does that ‘coming home’ statement remind me of? 

Let’s face it, he is more than just the captain of Russia and he can’t spend the build up to the tournament in the Arsenal reserves. 

So good luck to him, and let’s hope he gets a kick out of being back home and has an enjoyable summer. 

He could well return to Arsenal one day, it is only after all a loan deal, but I don’t think many expect to see Arsenal’s number 23 lining up for the Gunner’s next season.

As for Arsenal, I can’t really understand it.

It just seems such a stupid and bizarre time to get rid of a playmaker.

Wenger still has Chamberlain, Walcott, Gervinho and to a lesser extent Benayoun and Rosicky to deploy on the flanks but apart from the Ox, the others are hardly in form.

Chamberlain is still only young and already has such high expectations placed on his shoulders, Walcott is the king of blowing hot and cold, Gervinho just missed the crucial penalty in the African Cup of Nations final and as for Rosicky and Benayoun, they are hardly winger material and struggle to get into the starting eleven as it is.

Of course all of that may sound silly in the wake of the demolition of Spurs but just how long will these candidates keep it up for? Only time will tell, but it took Arsenal to be 2-0 down at home to their biggest rivals in a North London derby to spark that passion, desire and talented display.

Another thing Arsenal received when bringing Arshavin to the field was that he always had the talent to make something happen and always had it in him to conjure up some magic. 

With the loss of Fabregas, Nasri and the injury to Wilshere, Wenger was already limited in his options for a player to make things happen, something that a few seasons ago would have been unthinkable at Arsenal.

The one thing the club has done right with the exit of Arshavin is that his high wages are being fully covered by Zenit and that the Russian side are forking out a million just for the royalty of their former favourite returning home.

Arshavin probably would have been shown the door by Wenger and the board in the summer, but could have done with the option to bring him off the bench as the Gunners face a fight for fourth. Especially if he was to produce match-winning moments such as his cross for Thierry Henry’s goal at Sunderland.

We will see how it leaves Arsenal for the remainder of the season but until then Andrey Arshavin, a lazy star, may have just played his last game in an Arsenal shirt.

Matt Cotton @FindingCotton

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