As he closes in on his three year anniversary as an Arsenal player, Andrei Arshavin believes that he has been nothing more than average since moving to North London from hometown club Zenit St Petersburg.
The Russian international was signed amid great fanfare in January 2008 and appeared to settle well in his first few months memorably scoring four times at Anfield. Nevertheless, despite scoring memorable winners against the likes of Liverpool, Barcelona and gaining the full backing of his manager for his efficient performances, the 30-year-old insists that he has failed to hit top form in England.
Speaking to the official matchday programme ahead of this evening’s 0-0 draw with Marseille, Arshavin reflected:
“Speaking honestly, I think my performances have been average. I’ve done some good things, but I don’t assess my game on goals or assists – I look at the whole picture.
“Normally when I’m on the pitch I take control of a game, but I haven’t done that here. I’m an extra tool in the team rather than the main one, so it’s been different.”
Having captured the hearts and minds of the Russian people with his swashbuckling cameo at Euro 2008, Arshavin was handed the national team armband soon after moving to the Emirates. However, rather than spur the midfielder to even greater heights the intense media scrutiny coupled with Russia’s failure to qualify for the World Cup appeared to take their toll.
Relieving the tension of the last two years by securing qualification for next summer’s showpiece European Championships in Ukraine and Poland, the diminutive dynamo now hopes he can turn on the style in his final contracted year at the Emirates.
“Since Russia qualified for Euro 2012 I’ve felt completely relaxed and comfortable, hopefully that will show in my performances, because mentally I feel much better than before.
“International results are very important to me, and it’s vital Russia go to big tournaments – we missed out on the World Cup but have made a big step now.”