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Arsenal player season review: Andrei Arshavin

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The Short Fuse's season player review continues today with winger/attacking midfielder/Meerkat, Andrei Arshavin.

Andrei Arshavin has had a strange and volatile career in the red and white. A player who is capable of tremendous offensive feats (e.g. four goals at Anfield, the complete destruction of Blackburn's defense, 10goals and 18 assists in 52 appearances for Arsenal this year), he is widely regarded as weaker defensively, although he did seem to put a bit more effort in on that front towards season's end.

A player whom many also criticize for a lack of fitness or effort, Arshavin remains one of the more dangerous players Arsenal have in the final third. With the ball at his feet, he is capable of making jukey runs through opposition defenses, but he is also equally at home combining with Robin van Persie, Jack Wilshere, Samir Nasri, Theo Walcott, and Cesc Fabregas in Arsenal's patient one-touch passing game.

Despite the statistical performance, Arshavin himself admitted in January that he hadn't been playing as well as he would've liked. It is possible that he has moved past his playing peak now, being 30 years old. At times, it did look like he wasn't playing particularly hard, but looks can be deceiving on that front. Arhsavin often entered later in matches as the season wore on, as the Robin van Persie-Theo Walcott-Samir Nasri-Cesc Fabregas foursome was the standard up top. Nevertheless, he did do quite a bit of damage at the Hawthorns in March against West Brom. If his fitness was an issue, his substitute appearances allowed him to enter fresher, and this may have helped him play a little more defense at the ends of matches.

Arshavin is a player who, at this point, has deeply divided the Arsenal world; some say it's time for him to go, others feel that he can still be a valuable contributor next year in some capacity. If either Nasri or Fabregas end up departing from the club this summer, it is hard to imagine that Arshavin would go, as he would almost by default become Arsenal's second most consistent playmaking threat. If they both stay, and younger players such as Carlos Vela and Aaron Ramsey start to see more time, Arshavin's role might become marginal to the point that he wouldn't be happy. The player who scored four at Anfield is probably not to return, but as an older, experienced wizard, he could offer much to the younger attackers at the club.

And, if nothing else, there're always his Q and As...

Beltran's grade: C+

Ted's emoticon:  :P