By Richard Clarke
It will be Andrey Arshavin’s mind, not his body, that helps him to adapt quickly to life at Arsenal, according to Arsène Wenger.
The Russian playmaker is poised to make his debut against Sunderland on Saturday. The 27-year-old was prised from Zenit St Petersburg on deadline day and has spent the intervening time adding to the week of pre-season fitness he had undertaken in Dubai ahead of the move.
Every foreign player needs a little time to adapt to the renowned pace of English football, but the issue is exacerbated if his physical shape is not 100 per cent.
However, Wenger believes Arshavin’s psyche puts him on the fast track.
“Yes [I think that] because he has personality and a strong character,” said the manager.
“The handicap he has at the moment is that he is not completely fit physically, but all the rest should be quite quick.
“He is maybe a week short to be completely fit to play at his best. He had three weeks preparation - two weeks with us and one week with Zenit - so that’s not too bad.
“But we will take the needed time. We will not put him under pressure, if he needs a bit longer he takes a bit longer. But at the moment we have many players in that area injured like Fabregas, like Rosicky, like Walcott. So there is a position to take as a creative midfielder.”
When asked where the UEFA Cup winner would play, Wenger said: “Any position – right, left or behind the strikers.
The manager added: “He can integrate well our combination game. He can move very well, he is very mobile so that is something we work on as well. He is a clever passer of the ball and that is something you need in every big team to open teams up.
“I have not yet decided if he will start, I will decide that tomorrow morning. But he is in the squad for tomorrow and we will see.
"You have to give everybody who comes in time to adapt, to adjust. However, I know his vision, his passing ability, his quick brain and they are very important things in the modern game.”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 20 Feb 2009