When Andrei Arshavin came on for the impressive Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with the game tied 1-1 in Arsenal's matchup against Manchester United on January 22 at the Emirates—a rematch of the game in which Arsenal got mauled 8-2—one wouldn't have read the situation as Arshavin now recalls it.
Then, it must have been a demonstration of faith from the Arsenal manager to sub the most impressive player for Arsenal on that day for the petite Russian.
In a move accompanied by fans' displeasure, it may have been the experience of the Russian international that the manager sought to employ, and not without reason.
The Russian has had a habit of raising his game at important occasions, and what's more, he is strangely efficient, as the tally of his assists in the previous season would attest.
Nor can one forget his winning goal against Barcelona at the Emirates in that same season, or his important assist this season away at Sunderland when Arsenal needed desperately to win.
The strong voice of fans' disapproval and a fortuitous Manchester United goal, which the Russian seemed to have a hand in as soon as he came on that Sunday in January, appeared to mark the end of the player's career at Arsenal.
It was a surprise to few, therefore, when Arshavin escaped to Russia on loan at Zenit St. Petersburg, a move that has proved fruitful as the player appears set to retain his place and captaincy in the Russian national team, which will participate in Euro 2012.
According to Arshavin, it was precisely the need to preserve his place in the national team that prompted the loan move in February.
I left Arsenal in February to try and regain my level to play for Russia and after the last few months with Zenit I believe it was a successful choice.
The offer from Zenit was good in every sense. If I had stayed in London then I am convinced that my chance to make the final squad for Russia would have passed.
According to him—with words that seemed to echo the petulant Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who still holds a grudge against Pep Guardiola—part of the problem at Arsenal spawned from an apparent loss of faith from Arsene Wenger.
"I suffered different problems at Arsenal. I lost the confidence of the coach. I wasn't sure why. But I wasn't getting the chances to play."
A few fans—who may feel that Wenger is too tolerant towards players like Arshavin who keep getting chances to play despite not demonstrating they've earned such merits—may disagree with Arshavin's assessment of the situation leading to his loan move to Zenit.
But all that is subjective, of course.
Arshavin will weigh his options after the Euros:
"After the Euros, I will study my future, think about it. And I would like to talk to Wenger before I make any decision."