While watching the Reading v Arsenal game which finished with such a dramatic climax and an abundance of goals there was plenty of praise for Theo Walcott for his hat-trick, Thomas Eisfeld for his exciting cameo and Olivier Giroud for his galvanising appearance up top. There was even a two goal salvo from Maraoune Chamakh, who seemed to suddenly remember he was good at football halfway through the second half.
Throughout the game however the commentary team of Rob Hawthorne and Don Goodman were on the case of Andrei Arshavin continuously (until near the end of the game when his class shone through). This is something the Russian should be used to by now as many an Arsenal fan has given up on the former Russia captain.
However I disagree. Throughout the game he was a constant threat and most of Arsenal’s best moments came through the diminutive playmaker. His main problem is of course his tracking back but when you consider the left-wing area he has been asked to play while in North London is not actually his position you can see why.
In fair honestly he does not help himself. His languid body language gives off the aura of a player disinterested and lazy when nothing seems further from the truth. His fitness is called into question on a regular basis but tell that to Chris Gunter who toiled in the final exchanges against the control and pace at which Arshavin moved the ball.
One man who does not stand for the stick sometimes sent Arshavin’s way is Arsene Wenger who recently stated:
“Andrei comes in every day and practices well; he is focused and wants to do well. I insist on this, because it was questioned and it is completely unjustified. In this case perception is not reality. He is a classy player and a top professional with a great attitude. You could see that when he came on against QPR, his brightness and his intelligence with the final ball is fantastic.”
Arshavin struggles in that every pass has to be a killer ball. As seen for the assist on Walcott’s first goal instead of playing the ball wide of the toiling defenders he instead insisted on slicing them open and giving Walcott the opportunity to finish.
He has reportedly got himself into the best shape of his Arsenal career and has not complained in recent months over his lack of first-team football rather spoke warmly of Arsenal and the city of London where he wants to raise his children. He rejected the overtures of Russia, Turkey and beyond this summer to remain with his young family and sees the opportunity to put them through the education system in the UK as a huge benefit from his footballing talents.
Nonetheless his contract expires in the summer and he is still far too good to retire. He wishes to remain as close to London as possible and one potential avenue could be a move to Reading.
With Russian Anton Zingarevich in charge and former Zenit team-mate Pavel Pogrebnyak at the Madejski it doesn’t seem a ridiculous notion. Whether the Russian tycoon would want to stump anywhere near the reported £90,000-a-week wages for the 31-year-old is another question.
While many would have seen the negatives from Arshavin’s game on Tuesday night I instead focus on the positives; stamina, dribbling excellence, pace and an envious range of passing. Any of the teams in London and the surrounding area would be lucky to have the precocious talents of Andrei ‘The Anglophile’ Arshavin in their squad.
What did you make of Arshavin’s performance? Will he play in the UK next season?
image: © wonker