Guardian, Wednesday, February 4, 2009 1:30 PM
Paying Zenit St Petersburg $21.7 million for midfielder Andrei Arshavin
has taken Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
of his comfort zone," writes Dominic Fifield
, unaccustomed as he is to paying large amounts for individual players. But despite the question marks over
the player's attitude and temperament, Arsenal has signed "a genius."
Although Wenger prides himself upon nurturing young talent and being patient in the wait for results and
trophies, Arsenal needed "an eye-catching arrival" now because of the threat to its top four place in the Premier League, and because of the upcoming Champions League round of 16 game with AS Roma.
Injuries to Tomas Rosicky
, Cesc Fabrega
s and Theo Walcott
have lead to a
goalscoring crisis that has seen the team fail to net more than once at home in any single game since beating Manchester United last November.
"The question now is whether the
signing of another creative midfielder, a 27-year-old used to operating either as a support striker or from wide, should have been the priority," writes Fifield. Arshavin "will provide menace and
invention once he is fit, pulling markers out of position as Robert Pires did in his pomp." Yet Arsenal has been weakest in central defense and in central midfield, where it has lacked an enforcer.
Wenger might privately concede "that this purchase represents a risk given the philosophy he has imposed upon Arsenal. He must hope it also sparks this team's pursuit of the top four."
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