This one should be fun. Andrei Arshavin has been mostly enigmatic throughout his Arsenal career, and that sort of ended this year. Enigmas are confusing, but Meerkat was just kind of bad. In 27 appearances he scored twice: one was a ridiculously lucky game-winner against Swansea early in the season, the other came against Bolton in the Carling Cup. He had four assists, one of which came as a brilliant cross to Thierry Henry to score a late winner at Sunderland. That was the high point of Arshavin's season. A week and a half later, he was loaned to Zenit St. Petersburg.
Of all the footballers who put on the Arsenal shirt this year, Andrei/y Arshavin was certainly one of them. Further kvetching after the jump.
Ted: I love Meerkat, and I have long been one of his more staunch defenders, but this year was simply not up to his previous standards. While I think his past contributions are well overlooked (28 goals and 31 assists in 106 appearances before this season in an Arsenal uniform, and people call him a "disappointment") because people don't see him as a "trier" or cite his lack of defensive nous in general, this year he clearly had lost a step and was not picked as much. While I still wonder what could've been if he had played behind van Persie instead of Ramsey, it's just never going to happen, and we'll have to see what Wenger decides to do with him this summer and autumn, if he keeps Arshavin at the club. *sniff* we'll always have 2-1 vs. Barcelona, Meerkat...
Aidan: Following the departure of Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas, I thought that Andrey Arshavin would replace some of their creativity, and once again be an important player for Arsene Wenger. In short, he didn't. He had some assists, but it wasn't enough to start ahead of either Theo Walcott or Gervinho. He gave the ball away too much, which is why he didn't play through the middle, and he wasn't good enough or defensively minded enough. There was no reason to play Arshavin ahead of Benayoun, and it was painful to see Arshavin towards the end, especially when he was booed on against United. He produced a great cross for Thierry Henry, but he should've done that more this season, especially as Arsenal missed creativity.
Paul: I feel like rating Andrei Arshavin’s half season at Arsenal is a bit of an exercise in futility. He played pretty well against Bolton in the Carling Cup, but then he had an absolute nightmare against Swansea, and his season just got worse until he got booed off the pitch against Manchester United. What’s wrong with Arshavin? In a team built on pace, he’s getting slower by the week, and he had an annoying habit of not being able to hold on to the ball pretty much ever. Just when everyone was really sick of seeing him, though, in what proved to be his last appearance for Arsenal he did this – I don’t care how crappy his season was, that was a brilliant damn cross. After that game, he got loaned out to Zenit St. Petersburg, and will probably not be back. Adieu, Meerkat. You really won’t be missed all that much.
Thomas: Arshavin was another guy I thought got a bad break from fans. Not in terms of quality - frankly, he was awful. He had very little real output this year, and was a negative influence on games (he couldn't hold the ball, he couldn't defend, he couldn't/wouldn't pass). I will not defend Andrei Arshavin's quality this season, because there isn't a defense of it. But the "Arshavin is lazy" meme really annoyed me, mostly because it is itself lazy. When you can't figure out what's wrong with a player who used to be good, it's really easy to make something up - laziness, lack of passion, "being soft" - and claim that as a cause to all his problems. He didn't track back, but in games where we actually have data, he did run quite a bit. So there's really not a lot of evidence to support "laziness" as a cause; it seems more likely to me that the game has just passed him by. When a guy whose whole game is passing and dribbling past defenders, and he loses his touch and his speed, he's going to go south fast. Arshavin went south fast. He likely won't be back. I'll miss his mild insanity and weird giggling, but not his near-total inability to affect Premier League football games.