I remember sitting in front of my laptop refreshing BBC Live text on 2nd February during the wee hours, checking if Arshavin had been signed by Arsenal or not. It was very clear from our persistence that the deal will go through but I was still worried because he was a marquee player and it's not Arsene's way to sign superstars. The deadline was extended the next day and between some confusion, we finally signed the star we wanted.
We'd seen Andrei play at the Euro 2008 and were very excited because if he could replicate that form for Arsenal, we would become even a bigger threat and a serious title contender. And replicate, he did. He was magnificent for that half season in 2009 and his performance at Anfield was surreal. He scored goals shooting from long range. His shots were unstoppable given the power he generated even without much backlift. After that performance, everyone was sure that we have a player who can create chances out of nothing very much like Bergkamp or Henry.
The next season was not very spectacular in terms of individual performances but his work-rate and link-up play was superb as he was made to play many matches as the lone striker given our injury problems. He never looked to complain and played happily out of position for us. Although I felt that he was bogging down because of lack of playing opportunities in his more favored position just behind the striker where he plays for Russia. But he should have known better because we always had Cesc for that role and I think the growing maturity of Nasri was also a reason for his displeasure.
In this season, we've simply witnessed a whole new Arshavin. He misses the ball too much, misplaces his passes and the first touch is poor. People also point out that he doesn't trackback but as a matter of fact he never did. He's more of a player with a classical football mentality who doesn't accept the philosophy of modern football which says that you defend as a team.
Even with all the negative things pointed out in his performance, he still manages to create goal scoring opportunities and score goals. We've never had major injury issues with Arshavin which is unlike Arsenal because every player in our team has spent considerable time in the treatment room but no sir, not Arshavin. He has been turned into a winger from more of a left-central midfielder but he still performs albeit averagely. Keeping in mind this perspective, I couldn't understand why there's Arshavin bashing during every match, be it on Twitter or on field. Arsenal fans like every other fans in the world, pay to watch the match at their stadium. Like every other fan, they're also passionate for their team but you will rarely find this vitriolic environment elsewhere in the world.
As Arsene mentioned in his backing of Arshavin that he's going through a slump in form and as true supporters we should help him rediscover his form. We should not repeat the crime we committed against Eboue and Bendtner. I believe that if we have any chance of beating Barcelona, it's with this guy at the top of his game. You will not get any magic from starting Theo instead of him, we will need the real Shava on the pitch at Nou Camp.