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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Arshavin's pull back was Pires-like and his decision making is Kasparov-like

Andrey Arshavin has made an excellent start to his Arsenal career. His football is characterised by very smart play, attacking initiative and good technique with both feet.

Arshavin has clearly shown in his short time at Arsenal that he is a player with big footballing intelligence. A player that not only has excellent footballing ability but also thinks deliberately about the smartest ways to use that talent in specific situations is a player to really enjoy watching.

His post-match comments after the 4-0 win against Blackburn were very telling about his high footballing intelligence. Speaking about his wonderful finish from a very tight angle he described how he has scored from such positions before and then described with excellent analysis how he interprets in these specific circumstances that 'goalkeepers tend to move slightly to the centre of the goal expecting a pull-back and therefore there is space to lift the ball high at the near post'.

This analysis was fantastic showing that Arshavin adopts a chess-like analysis to football; that he thinks ahead about his immediate opponent's motor responses and then selects the best move to capitalise on it. This shows very high footballing intelligence from the Russian captain; a Garry Kasparov type approach it could be said!

Of course, the great thing about Arshavin is that he also has the ability to then carry off the move that he calculates is best.

Yesterday Arsenal were a goal down in the FA Cup quarter final for over an hour until the equaliser from van Persie. RVP had an open goal to finish in and it was laid on a plate for him by Arshavin whose cool pull back in the heat of a frantic match was fantastic. Arshavin had the chance to shoot himself (and many would have) but there was a man on the line and he instantly calculated that a pass back across the goal to RVP would be the wisest move. The weight and accuracy of the pass was perfect; RVP could not miss.

This cool decision-making and technique reminded me of how Pires often declined the chance to shoot for glory to rather pass accurately across to Henry to finish from a better position. It was great to watch; and indeed was a game-turning moment.

Andrey Arshavin is proving to live up to his reputation as a very bright player and I think we will all enjoy many superb footballing moments from him in his career with Arsenal.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

100% agree with your analysis of Arshavin. Goes to show quality with experience can make all the difference to a team and not just quality like what Wenger has been pushing for.

3/18/2009 1:27 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm surprised to realise that Arsenal without him is not Arsenal anymore.
I have this feeling when our team plays in Champions League.
He adds 'something' that we had with 'invincibles' years ago. Now it's back.

3/18/2009 1:35 pm

Blogger Marv tha' gooner said...

Nice to see a simple unbiased view of football. I am a 30 year supporter of Arsenal but I am also a football fan who watches ANY football when I can. I am first to hold my hands up if we are beaten by a team deemed better on the day. It really irks me however when "fans" have a myopic view with regards to their team.


3/18/2009 1:41 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Big up Marv. Like your post.

3/18/2009 2:39 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

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you will like what it has to say.

3/18/2009 2:59 pm

Blogger T said...

Thanks all, appreciate your comments and I agree with the separate points made by the first two anons and Marv.

3/18/2009 3:44 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There were two men blocking his path to goal. I know because I freeze-framed the scene to illustrate basic shoot-or-pass decision making to my 7 year old.

So basic in fact that it doesn't really help your point about his footballing intelligence. You don't need to be Kasparov in that situation. But as you did point out, you need a cool head, and a killer instinct to choose the most dangerous option to finish off the other team. That kind of ruthlessness is Kasparov-like.

I take your point, but I'd add that Arshavin is a great competitor and this will turn out to be his greatest strength and contribution to the team from the wings and the middle of the park. As much as Pires hated the rough stuff, he was still a deadly matador when faced with the chance to finish off a team. As was Ljungberg. Hleb wasn't, Eboue isn't. Adebayor isn't. Jury still out on Nasri, Theo, Bendtner. Vela clearly is; Eduardo clearly is; Van Persie is, but less so; ditto with Fabregas. These two seem more to live for the build up, not the coup de grace, as with Rosicky and Diaby. Arshavin is a tougher customer on the pitch. He'll be a great asset. I just hope he doesn't go all homesick on us.

3/18/2009 3:45 pm

Blogger T said...

Thanks anon, accept you clarification on the number of the players on the goalline and I like your analysis on the 'ruthlessness' of the players... pretty much agree with your characterisation of each one mentioned.

Re Arshavin's assist- I agree it may in the circumstances have been a basic decision, but given the specific context of the moment (goal down, late on in a frantic cup match before a fervent crowd) I'm pretty sure more players would have put clear thinking aside and gone for goal notwithstanding there being bodies in the way.

That type of hyper-situation is when good ingrained footballing intelligence really shows its worth.

(By the way, great stuff that you highlighted this decision-making to your seven year old)

3/18/2009 4:41 pm

Blogger Trasher[Zenit] said...

Arshavin the magnificent football player! Phenomenal vision of a field, чуство games, dribbling. He not greedy, plays into the account and at a command. Its transfers are ideal, and actions unpredictable! It was a pity to leave such player! But he has deserved for a long time the right to play one of the strongest championships of a planet!) its main advantage-accurate, the transfer verified to millimetre! Far not to hammer in ability. Though also it he is able not worse! When your guys will learn to feel its transfers. When will begin will hammer-arsenal it is uncontrollable! Here then all will understand Andrey’s present price! It is at present far from peak of the form, and I look forward, when it will type it!

p.s: I wish successful game the Arsenal of the house and in Europe! With Andrey’s transition in your club, fans at the Arsenal has increased!

I am sorry for my bad English…)))

3/18/2009 9:45 pm


Very nice piece. And very nice to see Arshavin producing on the big stage after his sudden rise to prominence at the Euros.

~ Vote at ~

3/19/2009 11:16 am

Blogger T said...

Fantastic to have your comment Trasher[Zenit]!! It is great if Arsenal have more supporters because of Arshavin's arrival - and we all hope that he continues his excellent start to his Arsenal career!

Thanks for the compliment on the post Bestplayerintheworld.

3/19/2009 11:48 am

Blogger Trasher[Zenit] said...

The Arsenal does not have ending, no end. After all the command is completed by players of a highest level! But there is no victory goal-is not present. I have an impression that when time comes to put solving blow-command fades. Fades during that moment when it is necessary to operate! It not a lack of skill. It is a youth. Shortage of experience. Realisation of the moments-it skill, cold mind and some share of luck! Arshavin will not solve all problems. Whatever was the player anything without a command. But if he adapts for a command. If the command accepts it-arsenal will receive one more muscle, capable to be straightened in the fullness of time what to put a mortal blow to the opponent. In my opinion, in this plan not all is good. The same Bendtner in my opinion, does not search for mutual understanding. Moreover. He does not wish it. And it is bad. There is no mutual understanding-is not present of goals-is not present of victories...

3/19/2009 12:35 pm

Blogger Abdul said...

Very incisive article T, reflected in tne quality of the comments left by others. Great to read the Russian perspective too! This Arsenal team desperately need experienced heads and Arshavin brings this as well as a directness that has pernaps not been there in recent times. I look forward to seeing the best of him next season.

3/20/2009 12:41 am


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