By Richard Clarke
Often, star quality does not go with toughness and work-rate. It seems that talent frequently has to be indulged, with less-gifted players over-compensating for their artistic team-mate’s lack of effort.
Andrey Arshavin, however, is different.
The industrious little Russian inspired Arsenal to a comfortable and most welcome 4-0 victory over Blackburn at Emirates Stadium on Saturday. He provided assists for two of the goals and scored another all by himself.
That strike proved his ‘bottle’. After weaving past Danny Simpson and planting the ball past Paul Robinson from the acutest of angles in the 65th minute, the 27-year-old celebrated by running straight to bench and embracing Gary O’Driscoll.
It was revealed later that the newly-appointed Club doctor had put four stitches in Arshavin’s foot at half-time.
“There was no question about him playing in the second half,” said Wenger. “He is not a soft boy at all. He is never in the medical room, he is not that type. He is tough.
“He works hard too. In fact I am quite surprised how hard he works. I think he is a man of challenges. To leave St Petersburg - where he was the star - and go to England at the age of 27, saying ‘I want to start it all again’ you need to have character and like challenges. And he does it in a very focused way I must say.”
Undoubtedly, Arshavin has given Arsenal something extra since arriving in the January transfer window. In every game, he has shown some sort of quality however, with his fitness levels developing, the Euro 2008 star is contributing more and more.
“He has had a real pre-season now,” said Wenger. “They had stopped in Russia so people saw a guy in the first game who had only had 10 days training.
“You know how you can be after six weeks out. And, most of the time, when you are negotiating a contract you are not really focused on training.”
Those negotiations were long and difficult but, on recent form, definitely worth the effort.
“I like the players who can give you hope in the final third and create something you don’t expect,” said Wenger. “I felt we needed that with the players we have and the type of game we want to play.
“He has won things before. He has experience and we are very, very young. We lost Hleb and Tomas Rosicky hasn’t played for 14 months. They were in that age category between 27 and 30. We were a bit short in that area before Arshavin came.”Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 16 Mar 2009