Before beginning this scrumptious entry, I had a brainwave… With news pertinent to our beloved Arsenal being considerably short in supply, why not put out a tweet and allow those that follow me to choose the topic? The 1st reply is what I’ll blog about, whatever that may be. Luckily, this particular choice wasn’t the first…
@JamesRaulStokes Jok’s inevitable slide towards menopausal fuelled rage killings.
— Trophy Whores (@GoonerDyllan) May 29, 2016
Whilst it wouldn’t be difficult for me to write 1000 words detailing the inevitability of Jok’s slide toward homicidal mania, I’m not sure how well that would be received, least of all by Jok himself. Those of you familiar with my friend and author of The Hot Stepanovs will be only too aware that it is simply a matter of time before he does actually murder another human being. With that in mind, I’m glad the quickest reply was this one:
— Positively Arsenal (@Blackburngeorge) May 29, 2016
When you take into account what I may have ended up writing about, I’ve seriously lucked out here. That pint-sized Russian genius has always held a special place in my heart. Even during the latter part of his Arsenal career when his main interests surrounded Burger King and women with alarmingly flat bottoms, I’d always want to see him play. There was always the sense that he could do something special.
His time at Arsenal wouldn’t be associated with legendary status, but he left us with some fabulous memories. Those 4 goals at Anfield immediately spring to mind. I remember watching that game vividly. Had we not fielded a defence so relentlessly sh*t that evening, his performance would have been a winning one. Those 4 goals, all taken with great aplomb and no small measure of enthusiasm – watch the lung-busting run for the 4th – deserved to be on the winning side.
But his greatest moment has to be that goal against Barcelona. Over the course of Arsene’s reign, Barcelona have beaten us comfortably, often with consummate ease. That evening, however, we were the better team. Despite falling behind, we created numerous chances and played intelligent counter attack football, sacrificing possession in order to bide our time and strike when the opportunity arose. After what seemed like an eternity of Xavi and Iniesta exchanging rapid fires passes in the centre circle for absolutely no f*cking reason whatsoever, Robin van Persie managed to grab the equaliser.
Some 10 minutes later, a great exchange in midfield involving Wilshere and Fabregas, sent Samir Nasri – before he transformed into an odious little sh*tbag with absurd hair – scampering away down the right looking for someone to cut it back to in the penalty area. Emerging from the bottom of the TV picture was Arshavin, screaming for the ball. Nasri duly obliged and “Stuart Little”, as he became affectionately know, caressed the ball past a flat-footed Victor Valdes. It was a difficult finish made to look preposterously simple.
That night was memorable for so many reasons. The sense of belief, the euphoria, the performance, the commentary that’s now famous (ArrrrrSHAVINNNN!) and the figure of Pep Guardiola moping around the touchline. But most of all, that goal and the guy who’ll forever be associated with it.
I loved Andrey Arshavin for so many reasons. For his sense of humour, his ability, the impact he made and the glorious unpredictability that came with him. Like so many that can be labelled cult figures, his tenure at the Club was far from without its up and down and moments of controversy. But the good moments, those were special and I’ll always hold them in fond regard.
Right.. That’s me done for this evening. Tomorrow morning I shall return with more. For the meantime, why not share your favourite memories of Arshavin? Do you have a specific memory different to the two I have mentioned? Let’s be hearing what you have to say, folks.
Until we speak again, and as always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.