Before I begin I'd like say thanks to everyone who read, liked and commented on my last article. All of your input is greatly appreciated!
Since Arsenal bought Andrei Arshavin from Zenit in 2009, he has had a big impact on the EPL. He was the first player to score four goals at Anfield since Dennis Westcott in 1946, and he won the Player of the Month award in April 2009.
However, "The Little Russian" has received quite a bit of criticism lately and has lost out on his starting place to in-form Samir Nasri and Theo Walcott. There has been a lot of speculation surrounding Arshavin's future at The Emirates, and many people believe that he will be offloaded in the summer.
In this article I will outline why Arshavin has been criticised recently, why he is a great asset to the club and possible ways for Wenger to get him to rediscover his form from previous seasons.
As most people know, Arshavin hasn't been having the best of seasons this year. Although he began brightly with two goals in the first three games of the EPL (one against Blackpool and one against Blackburn), his form has slipped since then.
The 29-year-old has only managed to score two goals in Arsenal's last 20 EPL games. Although this is a horrendous statistic, there are some good reasons for Arshavin's recent slump.
Nasri has cemented his place on the left wing, meaning Arshavin has been forced to play on the right, where he is far less effective. The Russian is normally deadly on the left, and he has produced some thrilling goals by cutting in on his right foot. However, he is far less effective on the opposite side where he has been producing poor performances all season.
Theo Walcott has also recently hit form and has taken over from Arshavin on the right. That means he has been forced to take a place on the bench where he is given a run for the closing minutes of matches. Unless Wenger gives Arshavin a few more starts, he will never get back on his game.
I also think that fans criticising his performances hasn't helped either. Once a player gets into a bad run of form it can difficult for him to get back to his best, and the fans need to be patient.
There are many reasons why we should keep Arshavin at The Emirates.
Arsenal have always had problems with injuries to their best players, and should Nasri or Walcott get injured, Arshavin could easily fill the void without weakening our team.
We have also struggled to play against the big teams, but Arshavin seems to come to life during these key games. He produced magical goals against Manchester United and Liverpool last season and who can forget his four-goal rampage at Anfield two years ago. If Arshavin can rediscover his form, he would play a vital part in the big games to come including our Champions League tie with Barcelona and our home game against United at the end of April.
Arshavin has also proved to be a great play maker. Although he isn't playing well, he has still managed to get nine assists in the EPL this year. He didn't have a huge chance to prove his play making skills last season as he was forced to play further up front following Van Persie's injury.
He also suits our style of play perfectly. He has great pace when we are on the break and is extremely adept at dribbling with both of his feet. Why should we get rid of a player who has all of the qualities an Arsenal player needs, only to spend years waiting for one of our youngsters to develop to his quality (Wenger won't spend any money replacing Arshavin if we do sell him, he never does).
The advantages of keeping Arshavin are just too great, and he would be a great loss if Wenger sold him.
Firstly, fans need to get off Arshavin's back. The Russian may not be firing on all cylinders, but he's still a quality player. If the fans can get behind him, it will help his confidence greatly. Wenger has already shown great admiration for Arshavin, and if Wenger has faith in him, so should we.
Secondly, Arshavin needs to get back in the starting line-up. Although this will be a difficult task for him with Walcott and Nasri putting in some great performances recently, he still has the quality to do it. If he can put in some good performances off the bench Wenger might be tempted to start him.
Although it's unlikely to happen, a good solution would be to change around our formation to incorporate Arshavin into the team. Before moving to Arsenal, Arshavin played a supporting role for the striker, and I think he would be very effective at doing this for Arsenal. He is a great dribbler and would provide a different approach for breaking down defenses if our passing failed to work (much like Nasri when he was being played in the centre).
Wenger has made it clear that he wants to keep Arshavin during the January transfer window, but if his bad form keeps up until the end of the season, he could be tempted to sell him in the summer should he receive the right offer. This is what Wenger had to say when asked if Arshavin is leaving during the transfer window:
“I personally believe he is a great player – he is going through a period where it is more difficult at the moment. But he works very hard in training – his attitude is fantastic, and I am desperate to keep him"
Hopefully, Arshavin can rediscover his form sooner rather than later, and if he can he will play a critical part in the rest of Arsenal's season.