March 27, 2009
On the face of it many Arsenal fans might be viewing Andrei Arshavin as a straight replacement for Hleb. However, in just a few matches, Arshavin has demonstrated the kind of penetration the Belorussian seldom delivered.
What Arshavin does share with Hleb is an adaptability that could see him moved around the pitch, from game-to-game, and even in the midst of battle. This adaptability could have consequences for a number of players.
Walcott will already be worrying about what, earlier in the season, looked like an automatic starting place for the speedy winger.
The uncertain return of Rosicky is also another conundrum for spectators to unravel, from the outside four wide midfielders looks like too many.
Most Gunners' fans will have noted that Nasri looks much more effective when he has played through the middle in recent weeks, even showing an appetite to do some of the defensive midfield duties.
Arshavin's versatility, being able to play wide or as a striker, is useful but where is he most likely to play? The most likely spot is wide right at present, presumably with Walcott coming off the bench to inject pace when fit.
Once Rosicky returns how will the midfield line up? Could the Arsenal manager be preparing for the imminent departure of Fabregas?
It would be foolish to suggest that Wenger would like to see his only worldclass player leave the club, but with the lure of £30m plus and the Spaniard's long-standing ambition to return to Barcelona, Wenger may decide that in Nasri, Diaby, Denilson, Ramsey, Wilshere and perhaps Arshavin he has enough cover.
Such a plan would also provide him with enough cash to buy a much-needed defensive midfielder. Of course another option would be to let Adebayor got to Milan and maybe see the seldom-used Flamini return in a swap deal. You heard it here first!
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!