By Richard Clarke

There were few surprises about Andrey Arshavin’s Arsenal debut.

The Russian showed his undoubted quality, was substituted after about an hour and, afterwards, talked about the pace of the Premier League.

The 27-year-old had a sparkling first-half. He shot wide from distance after five minutes, forced a super save from Marton Fulop a little later and provided a pin-point cross for Nicklas Bendtner not long before the interval. However, with little pre-season training under his belt before he moved from Zenit St Peterburg, Arshavin is not at full fitness and was already starting to fade before he was withdrawn in the 63rd minute.

“I enjoyed my debut in front of so many spectators,” he said afterwards. “But I am disappointed we did not get the result.

“I am doing everything I can to be as fully fit as soon as possible.

“I have never played in this League before, so I will have to see [how long it takes].

“If I played today in the Russian Premier League, I think I would have been OK, but the English Premier League is a different speed, it is quicker.

“I think overall it was not so much of a problem for me on the pitch, but Sunderland played very defensive. All of their players stayed in the box. It was very difficult for us.

“We tried to play for a goal and had chances, but after the game we were not so happy.”

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23 Feb 2009