Andrey Sergeyevich Arshavin is the person who makes me nervous about Ozil. Andrey was our record signing. He seemed a good fun guy (after all he was not just a football, he had a degree in fashion design was in the fashion business). And he scored four against Liverpool. Ozil seems a nice guy, and he scores goals, although I don’t know about any extra-curricula activities. And he’s our record signing.
But somehow with Arshavin it never quite became what we all wanted and hoped for.
He was born in Leningrad on 29 May 1981, to a father who was both an amateur footballer and a writer, including among his works the gloriously titled ‘555 Questions and Answers on Women, Money, Politics and Football’.
In January 2008 Sam Allardyce tried to sign Arshavin for Newcastle. (Can you imagine?) Arshavin thankfully didn’t go and instead went on to become was man of the match in the Uefa cup final that year. In June Barcelona made a bid, as then Tottenham claimed they had done so too. In January 2009 Arsenal tried their luck and he signed – technically after the deadline closed.
Andrey made his debut on 21 February 2009 against Sunderland and scored his first goal on 14 March 2009 against Blackburn. And then on 21 April 2009, everything that we had waited for, and a lot more, happened. He scored four against Liverpool at Anfield. Maybe the fact that the last player to do this for Arsenal was Julio Baptista should have warned us that it couldn’t continue, but he went on to be captain on 2 May 2009 against Portsmouth and he won Premier League Player of the Month for April.
He was still going well on 13 December 2009, as he scored his fifth goal against Liverpool as Arsenal beat Liverpool 2–1 at Anfield again and in 2010/11 he kept scoring and giving assits – although the goals started to be more sporadic.
His initial dip in form seemed to recover when he played against Barcelona in the Champions league and beat them on 16 February 2011. But he was also being given a role in some less exciting games, such as the FA Cup match against Orient just four days later.
But by 2011/12 his form was appearing to drop even further, and while earlier there was never a thought in the early games that he ought to be tracking back to help out the defence, now, with the killer pass and clever side step seemingly gone, the fans turned on him, and he was booed. He could still deliver, but not often enough for some fans liking, and our record signing became a side show.
|Zenit Saint Petersburg
|Zenit Saint Petersburg (loan)
|Zenit Saint Petersburg
Eventually in 2012 he went back to Zenit on loan. He returned to Arsenal at the end of the loan and became an occasional sub and a league cup player.
On 5 June 2013 it was announced that the player we had worked so hard to get just four years before, and who had been our record signing, would be released on 30 June 2013. It was a sad end to a saga that I think most of us had hoped would do so much.
Perhaps the story explains why Mr Wenger is so reluctant to bring in the big names. Who knows. And indeed why did he slip away so quickly after such a wonderful start? Somehow, it just seemed to happen…
- The Anniversary Files: January to June
- The Anniversary Files: July to September
- The Anniversary Files: October to December