The date December 6, 2008 is a dark day in the Arsenal football club's history. It wasn't the day a shock loss occurred, nor the date a club legend departed or perished. No, it's the day Arsenal beat Wigan 1-0 at the Emirates.
It may seem odd that a victory is seen as a tainted time in Arsenal history but, what occurred during that win ensured this win felt more like a loss for the Arsenal side, Arsene Wenger and especially the fan. Arsenal versus Wigan wasn't exactly the match of the week, the Gunners sat in fourth spot whilst the Latics were content at 11th.
The game started strongly, exciting and attacking football was showcased and Togolese striker Emmanuel Adebayor broke the deadlock after sixteenth minutes to give Arsenal a one goal advantage. Then, just after the half hour mark, French playmaker Samir Nasri limped off after earlier suffering a rash challenge at the hand of Wilson Palacios. Emmanuel Eboue replaced the Frenchman and began the worst 58 minutes of his career.
The versatile Ivorian had a horror match on the left wing as nothing went his way. Poor control, astray passing, mistimed tackles, a dreadful cameo from Eboue.
The Ivory Coast international was then substituted in injury time for Mikael Silvestre and a chorus of boos emerged from the Emirates stands as the fans voiced their disapproval of one of the hardest working and most jubilant Arsenal players ever.
It was a horrible period as commentators alike stated their shock that fans would turn to harshly on such a happy presence in world football. Eboue's teammates momentarily consoled the former Beveren defender, but the damage had been done.
Arsene Wenger stated in the postmatch conference that the fans had gone to far by booing Eboue but he was confident the Ivory Coast star would bounce back. That he has—Eboue has since put the Arsenal fans rush of blood behind him and has continue to perform at the highest peak for the Gunners.
Fans have also shown their respect with various banners around the ground in games stating their apology and their love for Arsenal's much-loved African dancer.
Yesterday, the Gunner encountered Championship side Leeds United in the third round of the FA Cup at the Emirates, in a match most expected the North London giants to conquer with ease. However, it did not go to plan as Arsenal failed to go capitalize on their numerous chances before a Robert Snodgrass penalty early in the second half gave the Whites a shock 1-0 lead.
Fortunately, captain Cesc Fabregas calmly slotted a last minute penalty to equalize and ensure the Gunners stay in the FA Cup and keep their sterling reputation and pride in tact. Russian dynamo Andrei Arshavin had a game akin to Eboue's December 6 2008 match.
Should Andrei Arshavin Been Substituted?
Nothing went right for the diminutive Russian. Arshavin's touch seemed to have evaded him for the afternoon, alongside his pace. The Russian captain also missed a clear cut one-on-one opportunity with with Leeds keeper Kasper Schmeichel. Arshavin only managed a feeble effort directly at the Danish shot stopper.
Not only that, as the match got closer and closer to finishing and Arsenal's prospect of staying in the FA Cup diminished and diminished, Arshavin looked to become lazier and lazier, unfazed or unaware of the severity that a goal was needed.
The tense and frustrated fans began to become annoyed and restless, shouting chants to Wenger to have Arshavin substituted. Wenger listened, the Frenchman made substitutions, vital ones at that, but with each one the number 23 failed to appear on the fourth officials board, much to the shock of the fans.
Marouane Chamakh and Tomas Rosicky were both replaced, by Theo Walcott and Carlos Vela, when critics, fans and the all that witnessed the exciting encounter, where certain Andrei Arshavin would be hooked.
Except the former Zenit Saint Petersburg winger remained on the pitch for the full ninety minutes thanks to Wenger. Many may criticize the Frenchman's tactics as well as saying Wenger gives the Russian to much respect and leniency.
Arshavin's seasons so far has been one to forget despite some energetic displays as well as boasting the most assists out of any Arsenal player. But to often the Russian has looked lazy, disinterested and lacklustre yet Wenger has continued to play despite boasting boom youngsters Carlos Vela and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas in his ranks. Both Vela and Emmanuel-Thomas are set to go on loan after lack of first team opportunities.
But what Wenger did was wise, courageous and respectful. Had the French tactician hooked Arshavin, the Russian was certain to receive a mouthful from the fans. With Arsenal in desperate need of success this season in order to diminish their notorious five-year trophy drought. Wenger needs all the focus to be on succeeding, nothing else.
Had Arshavin been substituted and receive a chorus of boos, not only does it decimate Arshavin's confidence but it provides a major distraction for the Arsenal squad. In what is a packed month for Arsenal, the Gunners play a calamitous six matches in 17 days, one of which is the semifinal first leg of the Carling Cup.
Arsene Wenger showed his experience, knowledge and why he is the world's best manager by keeping Andrei Arshavin on the field and having trust in his side that they would get the job done—somewhat, at least.