So Andrei Arshavin has left after all. The quirky (horrible word, but it sums him up) little chubster who should have stepped into the shoes of Freddie Ljungberg to become our next cult hero but whose time at Arsenal turned into a case of what might have been.
Wenger’s role in killing off his Arsenal career through one of his strangest selection choices should not be overlooked.
The FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea in 2009 was our biggest game of the season at that stage. Arshavin was a player on form who had come in January and helped to kickstart our flagging season. But he was left on the bench, we lost the game and the chance to make it clear he was a key part of our team was lost. Yes, days later Arshavin scored four at Anfield so it might not appear to have been such a big deal but the real impact was long-term – the message it gave was Wenger didn’t trust him on the bigger stage.
People will say Arshavin never showed enough effort or work ethic to overcome whatever obstacles Wenger put in his path. He never looked willing to get his weight down enough to pull off a shirt twirling goal celebration and was indulged too much. But he played as a central striker at times without complaint and has he ever not been carrying too much timber in his career? We knew what we were getting when we signed him – we didn’t handle him well enough to make him reach the heights he should have. Think back to his performances at Euro 2008 and, although there might have been a touch of ‘one tournament wonder’, ask why we couldn’t get him to reproduce the same form.
As Arseblog sums up neatly today, it’s another odd piece of transfer business by the club coming at a very odd moment in our season. I say transfer business but, of course, it isn’t – it’s loan business. Which is increasingly becoming our favoured, perhaps only, route of shifting out players who no longer fit into Wenger’s plans. Following in the footsteps of Bendtner, Denilson and Vela this season, Arshavin is now plying his trade with another club while we have no money to show for it beyond, presumably, the saving of wages. He may go in the summer and that would be the first time we could use the income anyway but why can’t we convince people to buy our players?
Then again, perhaps it’s part of a cunning ploy – maybe they’ll be returning in the summer while Wenger is exiting.