By Chris Harris

Arsène Wenger has urged Andrey Arshavin’s critics to take a close look at the statistics before they condemn his recent form.

The Russian playmaker has not been at his dazzling best so far this season and was left on the bench until the latter stages of Arsenal’s midweek win over Shakhtar Donetsk.

But Wenger still believes in Arshavin and the numbers bear him out. The 29-year-old has netted five times this season – just one fewer than joint top-scorers at the Club Samir Nasri and Marouane Chamakh. And no one in the Arsenal squad matches Arshavin for Premier League assists.

“If you look at the stats, he is the player who has created more chances than everybody else in the Premier League this season,” said Wenger.

“So his numbers are quite surprising to people who think he has not done so well.”

Arshavin’s class is obvious and his experience is valuable too. The Russian turns 30 in May and his manager hopes he will remain at Emirates Stadium for years to come – even though he refused to shed any light on a potential new deal.

“I think he has a long future at the Club - as long as his contract lasts at least, or until we extend his contract, and that is for I think 18 months,” said Wenger.

“But we do not come out with our contract situations because that is an endless story. We are always in negotiations now because when you sign a player for four years, after two years you have to renegotiate so we keep it as quiet as possible.”

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22 Oct 2010