My Arsenal Prediction Will Come True… One Year Late

OK, this is a bit of a risk.

Chin up, deep breath, clench buttocks: here we go… no, hang on a minute – unclench buttocks (it’s making me want to wee a little). That’s better. Now, for real this time, here we go:

The EPL Player of the Year for the 2011/12 season will be…

Andrey Arshavin.

Before you laugh, shout or go back to Teenage Latin Lovelies, let me point out that, at Arsenal, there is a precedent for what you might call the delayed prediction.

At the start of the 2002/3 season Arsène Wenger proclaimed that his team were capable of going a whole season unbeaten.

Most people were highly skeptical about this suggestion and some were brutal in their ridicule. They said that in the modern age, with so many demands on the top teams from so many competitions, it could never be done.

Arsenal failed to win the EPL that season, finishing five points behind Manchester United. Many of Arsène’s critics remembered his “unbeaten” comments from back in August 2002. In fact Arsene had been careful not to say that his players would go through the season without experiencing defeat. He merely said that they could.

Most journalists ignored that subtle difference and took joy in pointing out that, far from going unbeaten, Arsène’s men had lost six times in the league that season.

The following year Arsène (and we) had the last laugh. The Invincibles went unbeaten for 38 games, history was made and those same reporters who had been ridiculing Le Boss 12 months earlier were suddenly writing breathless articles about whether this was the best team ever to grace the English top flight (it was).

In a nutshell Arsène had been right with his prediction, but just a little premature – and which of us hasn’t had that problem once in a while?

Which brings us back to our diminutive Russki.

Now I would hardly wish to compare myself with our esteemed manager, but a year ago I predicted that Andrey would be the Player of the Season. Not just for us, but for the whole EPL.

It’s fair to say that that prediction was quite spectacularly wrong. Despite a tidy goal return and an excellent assist record Arshavin had, at best, a mediocre season. Perhaps even a poor one for someone with his talents.

Regardless of the stats, we fans could see that the little Leningrader was often peripheral to the action; he frequently lost possession and seldom tracked back. And some us thought that, well, he had been overdoing the borscht a bit. He may have been only a few pounds overweight, but when you’re the size of a mouse that’s going to show.

But what if, like Arsène, I have come up with the right prediction at the wrong time? What if I’m proved correct – a year later on.

I happen to think it’s possible, and here’s why.

  • First, no-one can question Andrey’s innate footballing talents. He is rightly regarded as one of the most skilful players in the world. If you doubt me, go to YouTube and take another look at his four-goal performance against Liverpool.
  • Second, after some rough treatment from the fans during last season, I thought he really sorted out his effort and work ethic in the last part of the campaign. His tracking back and tackling earned many a resounding cheer in those later games (when there was not much else to cheer about). I think it finally began to dawn on him that English fans don’t approve of ‘luxury’ players who don’t pitch in when the opposition have the ball.
  • Third, although Russia’s inability to make the World Cup last summer should have meant he would come back to Arsenal fully rested and fired up to succeed, in fact I think it was a serious blow to his morale. He was his country’s captain and the failure weighed heavily on him.
  • Fourth, in pre-season this year he looks slimmer and sharper and, while other illustrious members of the team seem to be searching for the escape tunnel, he has been talking a good game.
  • Fifth, if Cesc goes to Barcelona (as I believe he will) it could be the making of Andrey. The style of play we created to maximize Cesc’s talents meant that the Russian really was peripheral – in the literal sense. He was pushed to the left of the field and forced to play as a winger. Without Cesc I expect him to get the chance to play more centrally, possibly in the Dennis role or with a greater roving brief – and that will enable his gifts to bear more fruit.

I can’t imagine many of you will agree with me, and I fully understand why. The question is, was last season evidence of his powers beginning to wane (and his performances for Russia arguably support this theory)? Or was it an aberration, caused in part by the crushing disappointment of not getting his country to the 2010 World Cup?

We shall see.

OK, I’ve got my tin hat on – over to you.


69 Responses to My Arsenal Prediction Will Come True… One Year Late

  1. DM says:


  2. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Definately no need for a Tin Hat, although I think your “Teenage Latin Lovelies” reveals a somewhat unsavoury side to your good self. Me, I am more of a mid European Lady Fancier. So there.
    Great stuff regarding the Russki and why not.

  3. Gooner64 says:

    Interesting post. I sincerely hope you are right that last season was an aberration as he is undoubtedly a incredibly talented player. Cesc leaving could well be the chance he needs.

  4. MickyDidIt89 says:

    You and I are getting our bits and pieces mixed up. I am still very much with you in the “deeply concerned” camp with regard to new troops. However, there is plenty of time left. I am, in the words of the Great Rocky, at clenched buttock status.

  5. nishanth says:

    If Arshavin is played centrally he will be very effective and back to his best.But i doubt wenger will play him there even if Cesc leaves.He will stick to the 4-3-3 with either Ramsey or Nasri(if he stays).I can’t understand why Wenger doesn’t try out different formations in the pre-season games

  6. Gareth P says:

    He can only reach those levels if played centrally behind a striker. On either the right or left he cannot be player of the season. He potentially is as good as Bergkamp but not from the wing.

  7. bongis says:

    Very good article i really hope you are right, would be nice to see Asharvin at his best.

  8. DM says:

    Sorry – I hate those stupid “first” posts but just couldn’t resist this once. Only this once, ok? Good.

    On to Arshavin – I truly hope you’re right, Rocky. His fall from grace last season (at least in my eyes) was spectacular, we expected so much of him and I certainly didn’t envisage that at the end of the season I’d feel indifferent should he be sold or not. In fact, truth is I was kind of hoping he would be sold.

    But maybe reading your article has given me a new fondness for the lad or something. It’s not that I’d forgotten what he’s capable of – trust me I watch that 4-4 video plenty as it is (ps the fanzone one is hilarious) – and there were moments last year that he shined too (that winner against Barcelona – come on, you thought he’d miss that too, right?).

    So many times last season, when Arshavin was having a poor game, I thought if only the entire crowd, every single supporter, shouted his name and cheered him on as loud as possible – really show him that we love him – maybe that will spur him on to make a run down the wing, take on a player, beat him, cut inside, shoot from the edge of the box and score a blinder.. that that would do wonders for his confidence, and from that point on it would be onwards and upwards, back to the Arshavin we knew and loved.

    But it never quite came. So much so that by the end of it, as I said, I was ready to throw in the towel.

    So maybe, just maybe, this end of season, the training, the Asia tour, the speculation around everyone, the press giving us a hard time, something, ANYTHING, has got him going again. I really hope so.

  9. GunnerPete says:

    Well mate for once I agree with you. For two long I believe that AFC have played far too much via Cesc. Great player that he is, we have suffered from the expectation from the opposition that all our players are tokd to find Cesc. Any fool could see that, Nasri & Arsharvin in particular were faster and were dragged back from promising moves many times to ‘supply’ the ball to Cesc. Your forecast that AA would benefit if we lose Samire & Cesc id sensible only if Arsene gets his finger out and signs two qualit replacements like (Ribery, yes he gets injured but how many games does Cesc miss out) and Oxlade Chamberlain. If AFC can get Miyachi back home we will have one hell of a forawrd line. Then all (all, thats a joke) we need is what we have needed for 5 years……BLOODY DEFENCE !!!

  10. Double98 says:

    I think whats motivating Arshavin is he is getting into the latter stages of his contract and he needs to play for his last big payday either at arsenal or back with zenith.
    He was immense in the game against Man u when he came on and started to slide tackle everything that moved.

    Though to win the player of the season he’d need the team to be built around him and wenger seems to be happy to keep him on the periphery.

  11. Jimmy Anderson says:

    Totally agree with you – top article!
    The fact that Arshavin stepped up to the plate and did what was asked by tracking back at the end of the season was very impressive. I don’t believe that he should be doing that though. He is far more lethal if left with the energy to make his mercurial darting runs across the box and walloping the ball into the back of the net.
    But as far as he is concerned, if that rate of assists and goals is in a bad season then god knows the heights he can achieve in a good season.
    Also, he seems to be extremely intelligent. If the fans get back behind him and sing him songs, he will get that twinkle back in his eye and show us why Wenger bought him in the first place – a la Liverpool 4:4 game. That was just one of the best performances ever from an Arsenal player and it will always bring back fond memories.
    Go on Andrei – this is your year!

  12. Cheadle says:

    Great article. I like to see someone point out something everybody seems to miss out. I totally agree about cesc. If he leaves with (our best wishes obviously) we might just see an arsenal team that has finally eased off its umbilcal cord. Like you, I sense that some players might just be waiting for this moment to become leaders and take on greater responsiblity. Wearing the arm band makes you the captain but the team needs “leaders” in every position.

  13. Meteora says:

    nice post
    I hope we are right..

  14. Rosicky7 says:

    Really like this hope Andrey plays more cenral this season !!!

  15. goonermichael says:

    When he (seems to be) is bothered he’s one of our most skillful players. I thought he was great against the mancs at home. Does anyone remember backham saying united wanted to go a season unbeaten. it was a goal for them. no one ridiculed him.

  16. Gooner In Exile says:

    Another cracker Rocky, I’ll admit at times to being AA’s biggest critic, but i also realised late on in the season that beating the guy around the head is not going to make him play better.

    He needs love and an arm round the shoulder, he is clearly a bit of a joker in the camp too.

    However he is ageing (at 30) and it is now or never to truly make his mark on the top stage before shuffling off to earn mega bucks in the US.

  17. MickyDidIt89 says:

    I love your cutting the “umbilcal cord” analogy, and it also highlights what I love about this site. Who else but AA’ers could take a positive from losing one of the worlds’ great midfielders. I agree with you. Lets have players who are 100% behind the cause.
    Dongling off.
    Have a great day all.

  18. chas says:

    Nice one, Rocky.
    C’mon Andrey.

  19. Rasp says:

    Top post Rocky. I am a huge AA fan – hence my avatar. He is the closest we’ve got to someone with DB’s skill and invention.

    His ‘russianness’ is often misinterpretted. He is always the first off the pitch at the end of the game and his amusing utterances via his website show little regard for the wider effect.

    I think there are times when he preserves his energy and others would say he is being lazy, but as others have pointed out, we need him doing damage in the final third where he is the most effective.

    I still get mad when I see AA with the ball out wide because I know he will find a way to deliver the ball into the middle, but our forwards hang back and often he has no-one to pass to.

    Finally I’d say that if only Chamakh had produced stats as good as AA, or Theo knew how to weave past defenders as AA can, they’d be hailed as the new Henry.

  20. johnny says:

    i like the little russian, if for nothing more than when he scored against barca and i ruined my best jeans spilling wine on them. but i think another reason he has fell away is his first few yards of pace. the explosion that gets you away from someone and gives you space. but on the other hand it may support your theory as on the wing this quality is vital, but in the hole its more about cunning, and vision which i feel he still has. but will he really get the chance. i feel nasri will stay, then theres ramsey, plus if we do get a quality striker van percy may play in the hot spot. who knows.

  21. Greg says:

    Ah, faith! It’s good to see some of it. Absolutely love the little fella, I like your idea of him moving in to the middle.

    In fact, fcuk it, I almost want us to sell Fab tomorrow just so I can have at least one season of Arshavin as number 10.

  22. johnny says:

    hello all,

    could someone tell me if they have heard anything about us signing frank ribery from munich. My friend just text me that we are in advanved talks. But nothing on news now. i trust my friend he is not a bull shitter. Also he is not an inside man or anything he sells cars ha ha. he is a geek when it comes to footie though. And how old is ribery theses days?? thanks

  23. goonermichael says:

    There is a link on the bbc (under gossip) to that story. I didn’t even click it as the site sound dodgy.

  24. johnny says:

    thanks goonermichael.
    i try not to take much notice of gossip, after last summer of constanly looking. just wound me up, and days felt like weeks. try and just wait for concrete stuff now. but my friend said advanced talks, which got me going. pretty shore he gets injurd too much anyway. last time bayern sold someone quality to a english club with a few injury problems it was hardgreeves to utd, and that went well !! got to love there work but hoping we check him out properly if it is true which i doubt.

  25. evonne says:

    Hello Rocky, great post, no surprise there! It beats me how you can always come up with yet another exciting topic?!

    I can only fault a couple to ‘facts’ in your article – Leningrad is no longer, it is St Petersburg now. And borsch is the least fattening food on earth. Plus, it is so horrible noone can eat enough of it to get fat 🙂 Other than these, you are spot on!

    I would like to add another side to your theory. Andrey is a BIG celebrity in Russia. Tovarisch Putin personally had seen him off to the plane heading for Highbury; this is a huge reward in Russia, not heard of before, because AA is special. He is well educated, was a candidate for the local political party and his fame considerably exceeds his humble 5’7″ height.

    Coming to live and work in London must have been a cultural and personal shock to his system. His was no longer everybody looked up to, but a little Russian being looked down on. His fall from grace was not soften by his wife’s hatred of her new life in London.

    I might be wrong, but I am certain that personal difficulties have taken a toll on his performance. He is at the end of his career and unless he makes a mark, he will not retire a hero or a millionaire in US. He will try harder than ever before, that’s for sure. And therefore I agree with you that we are to see Andrey in his full glory this season

  26. Carlito11 says:

    RL- I hope that the delayed prediction theory is true! Arshavin will be Player of the year- RVP will be golden boot and we will win the league (those were my two from this time last year!)

  27. johnQ says:

    after looking through this stats, 40 mil for fabregas is a disgrace. He really is the world best midfielder right now!

  28. RockyLives says:

    Thanks for comments everyone.
    I’m genuinely surprised that my positivism about Andrey is shared by so many. I was expecting a tirade of “you must be joking!”

    Your optimism, like mine, may be more from the heart than the head – we shall see.

    Evonne – I’m guessing that when AA was born it was still Leningrad. I actually went there in ’91 not long after the end of the Cold War (it was back to St Petersburg by then). Apart from a few nouveaux riches, times were so hard that most people were nostalgic for Communism! Did you know that the city was also called Petrograd for a while in the early part of the 20th Century?

  29. RockyLives says:

    I agree.
    A fair valuation would be more in the 60m range.
    Unfortunately the price is lowered because everyone knows that he will only move to one place; and also because the debilitating effect of the will-he-won’t-he saga on Arsenal means we need to bring the whole thing to an end sooner rather than later.

  30. dandan says:

    Very Interesting article Rocky, and great fun,well done. My only real reservation is will he reach a position where he has the stamina to last 90 minutes and not have to be substituted.

  31. RockyLives says:

    If he plays like a genius for 70 mins every game I’ll settle for that. 🙂

  32. RockyLives says:

    Obviously i mean a football genius. If he played like Einstein or Toulouse Lautrec it probably wouldn’t help matters.

  33. Camberwell Gooner says:

    Great post, another fine read from a very enjoyable and well-written blog. In fact, if I was looking forward to the new season before I read it, I’m positively wetting myself now! Keep up the good work AA.

  34. RockyLives says:

    Thanks CG
    Now that there’s a bit of footy being played and the squad is back together after their summer hols I think (hope) that the negativity of the end of last season is waning.

    There’s something magical about the start of a new season. Whatever happened before, everyone starts off with a clean slate, everyone thinks they have a chance of achieving their goals, everyone starts level on P0 W0 D0 L0.

    Bring it on!

    I notice that you comment on here from time to time and you always make articulate, sensible points. If you ever feel like getting something off your chest you should check out the ‘Be Our Guest’ link at the top of the page.

  35. TotalArsenal says:

    Excellent post again Rocky. I think you might well be right that this is AA23 season: (20)11-(20)12 –> 11+12=23. You believe in the truth being revealed in anagrams, but… there might be more truth in numbers! 🙄 😉

    I agree with you that AA23 in the DB10 position could make all the difference for him/Arsenal. Key question would be whether he is able to concentrate and focus for 90 minutes in that very important position. It would be worth a try:


  36. SharkeySure says:

    I agree Ricky. (Unchanged typo !!..Lol)

    His natural talent is frightening, and his goals and assist per game stats are quite phenomenal (says SS without actually checking !!)

    When he starts regularly putting a real shift in your prediction is halfway to being a decent bet. Lets hope that his fitnesss issues are behind him (fat arse.??)

    Ps. Can I keep calling you Ricky..??

  37. RockyLives says:

    Only if I can call you Shakey…

  38. RockyLives says:

    Decent line-up.
    Having not seen the two friendlies so far I’m not clear whether there was any hint at a 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 formation. Can anyone enlighten me?

  39. Rasp says:

    Afternoon all,

    I’m glad to see my admiration for AA is shared by so many and thanks to Rocky for stimulating the love!

    On another note, we have no posts for the rest of the week so if any regulars or new bloggers want to pen a few lines they are guaranteed to be published.

  40. Red Arse says:


    As a world reknowned expert on tactical matters, I can tell you we played 1:10 when defending and that intriguing formation 1:10 when attacking.

  41. RockyLives says:


  42. Red Arse says:


    Of course, to be more accurate, when RVP was injured and the trainer was refreshing his dingle dongle with an ice cold spray, we skillfully resorted to 1:9:1 — but as soon as the dingle dongle was dangling again we reverted to 1:10:0.

    In retrospect, because of our proclivity for injuries I believe the third digit info should become mandatory!

  43. evonne says:

    RA – I thought you were disappearing again?

    Rocky @3:36 🙂 SS calls me ETL, now I know what to call him 🙂

    It is good to know that Gervinho is not worried about possible loss of Cesc and Samir. We need lots of confidence in the team

  44. Red Arse says:


    I have, I will, I am ……… the TV producer (aka Rocky) asked a question just as I popped on to have a read, and you know I cannot resist him! 🙂

  45. California Gooner says:

    Great post. i agree that AA has the potential… if Cesc leaves and he is played in the #10 slot with two midfielders behind him. He is good, but slightly misused out wide, where his lack of energy makes him a poor defender and his two footedness and ability to pick out the unexpected pass cannot be used to its full advantage.

    Meanwhile, I am strangely disappointed by the Joel Campbell deal falling through. I know! who cares? That was a real longshot and chances are it it no big deal at all! But there is something very, very graceful and cat-like about the way he moves. Reminds me of Eto’o. Still, if he is causing issues now, better not get involved with him.

    Finally, regarding Chamakh. I was hanging out with a Moroccan friend who just arrived in California. He told me that Chamakh had ‘a problem’ last year but that now he is back in shape. I was curious, since the only problem I knew of was his lack of aggression on the pitch — the fact that he almost never just took defenders on to try and score. My friend said that Chamakh is the kind of player coaches cannot take of, since he can score at any moment. I’m not sure, but let’s hope we get to see that guy next year!

  46. evonne says:

    RA – have a good trip xx

  47. desigunner says:

    Last season, I thought one of the reasons for Arshavin’s struggles was that, in the absence of Cesc, no one was really picking out his runs. He made many intelligent runs but the ball never arrived. This often makes a player look daft but that isn’t the case. It also takes up energy which then can’t be spent elsewhere. If Wilshere can step up his game this season in terms of picking passes from deep, Arshavin can be a real threat for the opposition.

    Another issue will be Wenger’s preferred starting eleven. I doubt he will play Arshavin and Walcott in the same team but that might depend on the futures of Cesc and Nasri so right now I don’t really know what to expect.

    But the possibility exists. Arshavin has the talent.

  48. Hi all

    Great post Rocky. I too have huge respect for our diminutive Russian – he’s had to play out of position really since he got to us. He can turn it on just when you think he isn’t interested in anything that’s going on in the game and some of his tracking back and late ditch tackles were sublime last season.

    I agree with desigunner’s comment that when Cesc wasn’t around last season AA’s runs and passes were a waste of his energy as often others weren’t on his wavelength.

    He is immensely talented and I hope he has a great season.

  49. Now, who fancies writing something for tomorrow?

  50. Jamie says:

    Agree that Arshavin could be great in the no10 role but even if Fabregas and Nasri go Wenger still won’t play him there.

    He doesnt trust him. He occasionally says nice things about him in the hope that be might turn it on for a spell.

    AA played more games than anyone last season, mainly beacuse we only had three wingers and Walcott and Nasri couldnt stay fit.

    Wenger hooked him repeatedly around 60minutes which is exactly when you need you most creative players.

    I like AW, I like AA but unfortunately AW doesn’t seem to have anymore of a clue what to do with him than he did the day he arrived.

    The ‘let him hang out on the left’ policy has only served to blunt his brilliance. He hasn’t been helped by the worst first team left back I have ever seen at Arsenal in Clichy.

    Hope your right though Rocky because I love watching AA.

    Good article too but I think the point about him being slimmer is subjective. He looks fatter to me but maybe I’m just grumpy because I’m on a long overdue diet!

  51. RockyLives says:

    “the point about him being slimmer is subjective. He looks fatter to me but maybe I’m just grumpy because I’m on a long overdue diet!”

  52. RockyLives says:

    As usual, an astute observation.
    I would back Ramsey to spot those runs…

  53. SharkeySure says:

    Chas 11.07. What can I say…??

    Your video selection skills are incredible.

    If ever you decide to hold a ‘film night’ at a London venue I’ll take five tickets !

    Chas Scorsese..?? Chas Tarantino, ..?? Chas Stone. Yep I think thats it, you capture the drama and human spirit in movies in the way that Oliver Stone does (I think?).

    I’l now go and double check OS’s films on Wiki, to see if I’m talking complete shite or not

  54. SharkeySure says:

    Confirmed…henceforth you shall be referred to as Chas Stone, or Mr Stone if you like.

    Feel free to change your sign on to Chas Stone, and get/change your gravatr thingy.

    Salvador. What a movie.

  55. ShakeySure says:

    Ricky and ETL. Agreed !! Lol

  56. harry says:

    Rocky, astute piece as usual sir……..

    Last season when we were without Cesc and Samir I was saying that we should play our little russian in the middle…..

    Now I will reiterate my belief that we cannot really afford to let both go, but if they did, Arshavin might just be our saving grace…….

    To be honest we are actually spoilt for choice, I am really positive about the new season……..

    Just want to get these sagas over with it, settle down and go for it………

  57. evonne says:

    Sharkey – you are a MONSTER!!

    Did anybody listen to TalkSport radio discussion about Adebayor tonight? The rumour he is going on loan to our loud neighbours is beginning to be stronger. I don’t like Ade (at least since he left), but for him to go to Spurs is not acceptable. The twitching Cockney can make players believe in themselves and EA can become a scary force playing against us

  58. evonne – it’s so funny, they’ve been going on about Ade all day because ‘arry said he wants him. I’ve heard spuds and gooners saying he’s amazing and rubbish – he certainly divides opinion.

    The gooners who think he’s marvelous seem to forget how he played in his last season for us – lazy lazy lazy.

    How are you?

  59. Hi all, a little late to the conversation, but I’m with Rasper’s here in that he’s my favourite player for all manner of reasons.

    I don’t know if he’ll do well enough to win praise from the numbskulls who’ve given this award, for sentimental reasons, to Ryan “Super injunction” Giggs in the past.

    BTW how do you imbed videos ? I’m going to assault you guys with a couple of videos I shot at the Priest gig on Sunday. I know Sharkey loves that kinda music. 🙂

  60. ShakeySure says:

    Timings everything….and I have none.

    Ordinarily I’d be reading about Chary posting up JP vids for me on the following morning when I’m safe at work with YouTube blocked !!!

    But no – I’m here within 4 or 5 mins, as if called by dark forces.

    Talking of dark forces, I’m currently reading Bramm Stokers Dracula. Its a cracking read.

  61. ShakeySure says:

    I’m just gonna pretend that I’ve already logged off for the night, and can’t see Chary’s ‘invisible post’ at 10.04.

    I would say ‘night all’ but technically I’m claiming to have already left, so I’ll just say nowt and slide away quietly.


    Emoticon: :SS sliding away quietly: Hope it

  62. Ha ha Sharkey, that’ll learn you !

  63. […] My Arsenal Prediction Will Come True… One Year Late […]

  64. […] My Arsenal Prediction Will Come True… One Year Late […]

  65. Morning all

    We still don’t have a post for today so if anyone wants to write something please go ahead and email it through.

    I’m out on a site so won’t be able to sort it but Rasp will be around, just give him a heads up on here.

    Have a nice day all

  66. Rasp says:

    Rasp has a crisis at his work and won’t be around either……..

  67. Rasp says:

    New post …….

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