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March Player of the Month

Given that this is the first month of this season in which we have won all of our games (ergo the 1-0 defeat in Roma which yielded a penalty shoot out win), it is perhaps no surprise that this is the first month of the season in which I find myself with a plethora of candidates for Player of the Month. Whilst this season so far has had clear cut winners (January- van Persie, February- Gallas) and a few straw clutchers (November- Ramsey, August- Nasri). But as the Gunners have found rhythm and form, with the likes of Walcott and Eduardo returning, not to mention the arrival of Arshavin, the whole team has been lifted. To me that reveals that our squad is not experienced enough; because as experienced/ seasoned performers have come back into the team (or have been bought in from elsewhere) the younger players filed in the 'potential` draw, such as Alex Song and Nicklas Bendtner; appear to have lifted their respective games considerably. Indeed, Song and particularly Bendtner are worthy candidates for this award. Were it not for his profligacy against Blackburn, Bendtner might well have found himself astride the podium this month. Similarly, Song has become more creative with his game, more effusive with the ball. Another worthy contender this month would be Samir Nasri; who seems to have benefited from the arrival of Arshavin more than most. He has become liberated in recent games now that the burden has been eased. Wenger used the term "personality" to describe his performance against Blackburn and it does look as though he is finding his stamp on this team. But I note that Nasri`s only desperately average performance this month was out in Italy when Arshavin was cup tied. (Of course, Bendtner vastly outperformed Sami that evening, but still received the brunt of the brickbats in the post match write ups). Gallas and Sagna have been sturdy at the back but for one small aberration against Newcastle.

However, the March Player of the Month is going to our newest recruit. Andrey Arshavin has swept in to N5 and breathed spring into a place where the doom and gloom of winter appeared to have set up tent in the Marble Halls. Despite clearly lacking fitness in the games against Sunderland and Fulham, Arshavin showed something of a spark, an ability to produce moments of inspiration from nothing, an ability that only van Persie can realistically claim to match in our current squad. But this month has seen his fitness appear and he has begun to dovetail with the team perfectly, lifting the team and his team mates. In fact, his effect was so impressive at the beginning of March, that Arsene was afforded the luxury of leaving van Persie as an unused substitute for two consecutive matches. The month opened with an away encounter at West Brom which proceeded four consecutive goalless matches. He began upfront with Bendtner and the two formed an instant understanding, with Bendtner helping himself to two goals, whilst Arshavin bagged himself an assist with a delightful free kick into the area for Toure to score. He also nearly came away from the Hawthorns with his first goal after an intelligent run into the box and a fine cut back from Bendtner. Against Burnley, Arshavin started on the left, it took him twenty five minutes to swell his assist tally. He won the ball back on the left flank and played an instant through ball to Carlos Vela; which the Mexican dispatched with consummate aplomb. He almost grabbed another assist too; putting Walcott in on goal with another first time pass which split the Burnley rearguard. One of the most eye catching aspects of Arshavin`s ongoing adaptation period is his speed at releasing the ball, the instant vision and quick brain that characterises his all round play. Whilst he will still need tome to fully adjust to the hustle and bustle of Premiership football, his lightning quick decision making will serve him and the team well. (Take note Abou Diaby, you do not need to wait twenty seconds before you release the ball). It is also a much needed trait in an Arsenal team that had become far too contemplative and pretentious in its build up play, Arshavin has added some zest and pace to our attacks.

Arshavin of course did not play in Rome in a game where few Arsenal players impressed, particularly of the attacking vintage; chances were once again at a premium in his absence and the Gunners looked shorn of inspiration, van Persie was bordering on liability whilst Nasri plumped for plain old anonymity. Andrey`s arrival back into the side that Saturday heralded a four goal haul; albeit against weaker opposition at home. He was involved in the melee which bought about the first goal after great link up play between Bendtner and Walcott, so much so that Andre Ooijer`s own goal was originally credited to him by the stadium announcer. His vision and passing accuracy presented Bendtner with two of the four golden chances he squandered in the second half before cutting in from the left himself; shimmying past Danny Simpson and coolly lifting the ball over Robinson from an impossible angle. It was a piece of genius sorely lacking in the dreary drawy winter months. Similarly against Hull City, in a first half where the Gunners appeared to be bereft of attacking impetus, it was Arshavin who got hold of the game at the end of the first half with a triumvirate of efforts at the Hull goal, one in particular a spectacular improvised volley. He also bagged yet another assist after Bendtner`s good work on the right, Arshavin had the presence of mind to tuck the ball back to the better placed van Persie. It emphasised how Arshavin has, not so much fitted in with the Arsenal philosophy so quickly, but he has rekindled it. Unselfish play, intelligent runs, fast, incisive passing, all hallmarks of Wenger`s great teams forgotten in the current league of chin stroking artistes. It demonstrates not only a fast football brain, but the benefit of having a 27 year old in the crucial areas; the kind of sangfroid we have missed since Hleb departed and Rosicky was abducted by aliens. Arshavin did not have his most inspirational match on Tyneside, but he did grab yet another assist with another inch perfect free kick. He also ran powerfully at the heart of the Barcodes defence and smash a shot onto the crossbar from range. That sense of directness and willingness to strike that really only Rosicky has evident in his buccaneering play and delightful ball control.

Much of Arshavin`s play has been incredibly commendable, but it is not only what he has bought as an individual that has been so notable in our upturn in form. His qualities directly mimic all that we had lacked this season; his arrival lifted the entire club and has put confidence and ebullience into some of our younger charges. Bendtner appears to have formed an instant understanding with him, as has van Persie, the balance he has bought to the side with him and Nasri on the flanks has also benefited the team incalculably. He has sped the team up in the final third with his audacious first time passing. He has also lifted the supporters and whilst it is far, far too early to equate his signing with the likes of Campbell and Bergkamp, you could see this club was in need of an experienced, seasonal player of the highest quality just as we were in 1995 and in 2001. Whilst he will still require time to acclimatise to the physical nature of the game, a close up view of El Hadji Diouf`s x rated lunge at Almunia and the "treatment" dished out to him by Steven Taylor on Saturday will have given him a good idea of what to expect. He has still yet to face top drawer opposition, but the fixture run in will give him plenty of opportunity there. Most of Arshavin`s impact is a direct reflection of his quality, but some of it is unwitting on his part, just by functioning as he does, he has filled a huge chasm in the team. He will still find it tough going in some games yet; and we should exercise patience with him; players can also find themselves succumbing to "new manager syndrome" when results immediately pick up before the inevitable dip. Hopefully, the fact that he cannot play in Europe will give him ample rest and recuperation time and aid his adaptation. Arsenal did not score for four games in February and are missing a man who netted thirty times last season, yet nobody is talking about him and questions whether he will walk straight back into the team will be asked. That is how significant Andrey has been to this point. Let`s hope it continues.LD.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday March 23 2009

Time: 11:53AM

Your Comments

The more I think about it, the more I think AW always intended to sign AA in January. He made some comments in the summer about doubting Arshavin's physical stature, which was probably a case of throwing people off the scent. With the Russian season ending in November, signing him in the summer and asking him to play another full season, on the back of Euro 2008, would have been a bad move. By singing him in January, we have a player with a pre season under his belt at a crucial time of the season. The fact that AA first met AW in December seems to confirm we had him in our sights for quite a while and that this was no panic signing.
Little Dutch
The more I think about it, the more I think AW always intended to sign AA in January. He made some comments in the summer about doubting Arshavin's physical stature, which was probably a case of throwing people off the scent. With the Russian season ending in November, signing him in the summer and asking him to play another full season, on the back of Euro 2008, would have been a bad move. By singing him in January, we have a player with a pre season under his belt at a crucial time of the season. The fact that AA first met AW in December seems to confirm we had him in our sights for quite a while and that this was no panic signing.
Little Dutch
He is THE man. He deserves the award.
Tom14
Excellent summary LD and the right choice. The other thing I love about him is his willingness to get stuck in himself. Did you notice that in the build-up to our second goal against Newcastle he was initially hustled off the ball on the left-wing area. However, he got back up and came back with a challenge that resulted in the ball going to Clichy, who passed onto Diaby, who played a one-two with Persie... I just think he is exactly what we needed at this stage of the season. I can't believe some 'pundits' are questioning why Wenger signed him and not a DM.
Gooner_Vin
He is THE man. He deserves the award.
Tom14
Excellent summary LD and the right choice. The other thing I love about him is his willingness to get stuck in himself. Did you notice that in the build-up to our second goal against Newcastle he was initially hustled off the ball on the left-wing area. However, he got back up and came back with a challenge that resulted in the ball going to Clichy, who passed onto Diaby, who played a one-two with Persie... I just think he is exactly what we needed at this stage of the season. I can't believe some 'pundits' are questioning why Wenger signed him and not a DM.
Gooner_Vin
He has certainly helped plug the 'creative' deficit we have suffered due to departures and injuries this season. Would we have signed him had Rosicky been fit all season? I have my doubts about that - but there is little doubt he has much of what we have missed this season.
Amos.
He has certainly helped plug the 'creative' deficit we have suffered due to departures and injuries this season. Would we have signed him had Rosicky been fit all season? I have my doubts about that - but there is little doubt he has much of what we have missed this season.
Amos.
I can't believe some 'pundits' are questioning why Wenger signed him and not a DM. Gooner_Vin thats why they are pundits and not managers.
Armory
I can't believe some 'pundits' are questioning why Wenger signed him and not a DM. Gooner_Vin thats why they are pundits and not managers.
Armory
Love love Arshavin. From his intelligence and skill on the ball to his work rate and mature attitude in rounding up the youngsters from celebrating equalizers to hurry up back to the centre circle and get on with WINNING the game. And you just know one of those 30 yard screamers is going to go in these days. Cannot wait to see his full impact next season. Would also like hear his views of the physicality of the Toon game considering he was lucky to come off the pitch with his head still on- STEPHEN TAYLOR!!!
julieloveshenry4ever
Love love Arshavin. From his intelligence and skill on the ball to his work rate and mature attitude in rounding up the youngsters from celebrating equalizers to hurry up back to the centre circle and get on with WINNING the game. And you just know one of those 30 yard screamers is going to go in these days. Cannot wait to see his full impact next season. Would also like hear his views of the physicality of the Toon game considering he was lucky to come off the pitch with his head still on- STEPHEN TAYLOR!!!
julieloveshenry4ever
Yeah, those pundits clearly were not watching Arsenal games when they questioned the need for his purchase, all those 0-0 games and its our defence that needs help? idiots! Anyway, Arshavin has been remarkably impressive so far. I'll admit that I was bit wary that too much was being expected of him by Gooners, but it turns out he's exceeded all expectations (certainly mine at least).
TPowell
Yeah, those pundits clearly were not watching Arsenal games when they questioned the need for his purchase, all those 0-0 games and its our defence that needs help? idiots! Anyway, Arshavin has been remarkably impressive so far. I'll admit that I was bit wary that too much was being expected of him by Gooners, but it turns out he's exceeded all expectations (certainly mine at least).
TPowell
Spot on - both the article and all of your comments. I've restrained myself from waxing lyrical about him ever since he pulled on the red and white shirt. Not only has he shown the value of adding a finished article to our young team by showing his exceptional qualities, as LD said, he has made those around him play well too. I'd love for the raw talents like Theo, Bendtner and Vela to learn some football tricks from him (a would that I'd previously thought Hleb and Rosicky could play in the team). Just to watch this guy train would be wonderful learning for the kids, even Cesc. In addition, this guy seems to be a tough character who, as Vin said, is ready to get stuck in himself, despite the fact that he's still adapting to English football. Another additional thing that I like about him is his apparent honest approach to the game, an example being the way he waved and told his teammates that it was an OG when the first goal went in after that scramble against Blackburn. For a technical and pacy player, he also seems willing to stay on his feet or to get up straightaway after a tackle. A top buy from the boss it seems so far.
GoonerLou
Spot on - both the article and all of your comments. I've restrained myself from waxing lyrical about him ever since he pulled on the red and white shirt. Not only has he shown the value of adding a finished article to our young team by showing his exceptional qualities, as LD said, he has made those around him play well too. I'd love for the raw talents like Theo, Bendtner and Vela to learn some football tricks from him (a would that I'd previously thought Hleb and Rosicky could play in the team). Just to watch this guy train would be wonderful learning for the kids, even Cesc. In addition, this guy seems to be a tough character who, as Vin said, is ready to get stuck in himself, despite the fact that he's still adapting to English football. Another additional thing that I like about him is his apparent honest approach to the game, an example being the way he waved and told his teammates that it was an OG when the first goal went in after that scramble against Blackburn. For a technical and pacy player, he also seems willing to stay on his feet or to get up straightaway after a tackle. A top buy from the boss it seems so far.
GoonerLou
Typo: -would +role
GoonerLou
Typo: -would +role
GoonerLou
Pretty cool video of his highlights with us so far (a bit on the dramatic side to be fair, haha) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bfb3rZbQJxE
TPowell
Pretty cool video of his highlights with us so far (a bit on the dramatic side to be fair, haha) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bfb3rZbQJxE
TPowell
Hehe yeah TP, the music is a bit too dramatic, colour grading funny too, but it's a good vid.
GoonerLou
Hehe yeah TP, the music is a bit too dramatic, colour grading funny too, but it's a good vid.
GoonerLou
Best and only choice. Agree with everything here but I have to emphasize what is for me the most important thing: it is Arshavin's EXPERIENCE and intelligence that fills in a huge, gaping hole into our squad. He frankly shows up so many of our young players and what they've been lacking individually and collectively. And apparently he makes them want to improve their game, as they have done so since he's arrived. His entire attitude on the pitch, his willingness to urge his teammates to c'mon, stop wasting time, stop celebrating, we have to win this also shows LEADERSHIP and organizing skills -- all these things we've been lacking. Since we lost Flamini we have seriously lacked a "bossy" player in the squad, that's what Arshavin is. Unlike LD, I've actually thought AW was reluctant to buy him because of his persistent desire not to "kill" the youngsters and his stubborn refusal to see that this team has been desperately lacking in experience and leadership. Maybe LD's right and he came to see that the team did need those qualities and originally planned to buy AA anyway. It didn't seem like he did but I have problem being wrong. Whatever the case, it's remarkable what his influence has been to us. Imagine what it will mean to have such a player in the CL.
jaelle
Best and only choice. Agree with everything here but I have to emphasize what is for me the most important thing: it is Arshavin's EXPERIENCE and intelligence that fills in a huge, gaping hole into our squad. He frankly shows up so many of our young players and what they've been lacking individually and collectively. And apparently he makes them want to improve their game, as they have done so since he's arrived. His entire attitude on the pitch, his willingness to urge his teammates to c'mon, stop wasting time, stop celebrating, we have to win this also shows LEADERSHIP and organizing skills -- all these things we've been lacking. Since we lost Flamini we have seriously lacked a "bossy" player in the squad, that's what Arshavin is. Unlike LD, I've actually thought AW was reluctant to buy him because of his persistent desire not to "kill" the youngsters and his stubborn refusal to see that this team has been desperately lacking in experience and leadership. Maybe LD's right and he came to see that the team did need those qualities and originally planned to buy AA anyway. It didn't seem like he did but I have problem being wrong. Whatever the case, it's remarkable what his influence has been to us. Imagine what it will mean to have such a player in the CL.
jaelle
I would have liked Denilson to be mentioned of course, but his performance in Rome was pretty dire.
Tom14
I would have liked Denilson to be mentioned of course, but his performance in Rome was pretty dire.
Tom14
I tend to think AW liked AA in summer indeed but (a) his price would have been sky-high after the Euros; (b) it would've been even harder to deal with Zenit, it only became slightly more possible after AA stated his determination to leave the Russian league for months; (c) AW only made up his mind after Cesc picked up an injury that ruled him out for months, joining Edu and of course Rosicky, strong players in positions which AA could fill with great versatility.
GoonerLou
I tend to think AW liked AA in summer indeed but (a) his price would have been sky-high after the Euros; (b) it would've been even harder to deal with Zenit, it only became slightly more possible after AA stated his determination to leave the Russian league for months; (c) AW only made up his mind after Cesc picked up an injury that ruled him out for months, joining Edu and of course Rosicky, strong players in positions which AA could fill with great versatility.
GoonerLou
Hm, just heard that Togo's called up Ade for their qualifier. So he's no longer injured?
jaelle
Hm, just heard that Togo's called up Ade for their qualifier. So he's no longer injured?
jaelle
Also Lou, apparently Wenger was also influenced by medical advice that Rosicky would be back in Sep. Arshavin has been a breath of fresh air and although this might be premature, I hope Wenger sees the impact that an experienced pro has on the kids. This is what a lot of us have been asking for, and if Wenger can add to this with another 25-27 year old quality quality signing in the summer, then we're good to go next season. I was also likening this signing to that of Bergkamp, LD, although Arshavin is not quite the 'messiah' that Dennis was to the other gunners in the squad, in their clamour for European football. I love the lads interviews - he is remarkably modest, and shows a keen sense of ambition. In his recent interview, which spells goos news for gooners and a warning for the opposition, he realises that he plays well only in fits and starts (that was evident against Newcastle) and that he needs to improve his consistency. What a player he will be then!
prits
Also Lou, apparently Wenger was also influenced by medical advice that Rosicky would be back in Sep. Arshavin has been a breath of fresh air and although this might be premature, I hope Wenger sees the impact that an experienced pro has on the kids. This is what a lot of us have been asking for, and if Wenger can add to this with another 25-27 year old quality quality signing in the summer, then we're good to go next season. I was also likening this signing to that of Bergkamp, LD, although Arshavin is not quite the 'messiah' that Dennis was to the other gunners in the squad, in their clamour for European football. I love the lads interviews - he is remarkably modest, and shows a keen sense of ambition. In his recent interview, which spells goos news for gooners and a warning for the opposition, he realises that he plays well only in fits and starts (that was evident against Newcastle) and that he needs to improve his consistency. What a player he will be then!
prits
He deserves the award for uplifting the team definitely. I thought he would not live well in the premiership as he drifted out of 2 of the Euro games last summer, but it's an absolute joy to watch his no-nonsense play. He creates danger more than any of our other players at the moment. It's not just his skill but his attitude. Maybe if players like RVP took a leaf out of his book, they would stop believing their own publicity and get their heads down to work better for the team.
Andy-bayor
He deserves the award for uplifting the team definitely. I thought he would not live well in the premiership as he drifted out of 2 of the Euro games last summer, but it's an absolute joy to watch his no-nonsense play. He creates danger more than any of our other players at the moment. It's not just his skill but his attitude. Maybe if players like RVP took a leaf out of his book, they would stop believing their own publicity and get their heads down to work better for the team.
Andy-bayor
What a read for before going to bed..nice one LD..and you cracked me with the part.."Rosicky was abducted by aliens." LMAO...IMO, AA is the player of the season already as he has helped us resurrect our dying season so far not to mention his attitude portrayed on field..you will just feel he plays for Arsenal not for himself...long may the winning streak continue..cheers!
CoastarianGooner
What a read for before going to bed..nice one LD..and you cracked me with the part.."Rosicky was abducted by aliens." LMAO...IMO, AA is the player of the season already as he has helped us resurrect our dying season so far not to mention his attitude portrayed on field..you will just feel he plays for Arsenal not for himself...long may the winning streak continue..cheers!
CoastarianGooner
Not sure if anyone has mentioned this before but Denilson's run and pass on the Arshavin Goal v Blackburn was absolutely sensational. I am really looking forward to Arsenal games now after the run of moral sapping nil nil draws. By the way nice to see Robin is firmly keeping his feet on the ground: http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2009/mar/23/robin-van-persie-arsenal-form-emmanuel-adebayor-togo although in fairness to Robin, i think the media are distorting his words a bit. Similar to Bendtner's alleged quote that he should be playing every game.
Gael-Force
Not sure if anyone has mentioned this before but Denilson's run and pass on the Arshavin Goal v Blackburn was absolutely sensational. I am really looking forward to Arsenal games now after the run of moral sapping nil nil draws. By the way nice to see Robin is firmly keeping his feet on the ground: http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2009/mar/23/robin-van-persie-arsenal-form-emmanuel-adebayor-togo although in fairness to Robin, i think the media are distorting his words a bit. Similar to Bendtner's alleged quote that he should be playing every game.
Gael-Force
Totally off topic but i need to post this. Having read what the Spurs captain Ledley King is going through with his knee, i can only feel for him. I'm well pleased he got a call-up even if it is very likely he won't play. I like the guy's quiet demeanour and leadership on the pitch and he doesn't moan about his plight in the media. It's good to see a real gentleman among the Joey Barton thugs in the game. VA should do a tribute article to recognise Ledley King to show the average spur hater that we are a better club in every way. That said I still have hopes for the Spuddies to get relegated though.
Gael-Force
Totally off topic but i need to post this. Having read what the Spurs captain Ledley King is going through with his knee, i can only feel for him. I'm well pleased he got a call-up even if it is very likely he won't play. I like the guy's quiet demeanour and leadership on the pitch and he doesn't moan about his plight in the media. It's good to see a real gentleman among the Joey Barton thugs in the game. VA should do a tribute article to recognise Ledley King to show the average spur hater that we are a better club in every way. That said I still have hopes for the Spuddies to get relegated though.
Gael-Force
I've been very impressed with RVP's attitude this season. He seems to work hard, always battling for the ball and closing down defenders. His finishing could have been more clinical at times, but that will hopefully improve as we get to crucial final games of the season.
jubair
I've been very impressed with RVP's attitude this season. He seems to work hard, always battling for the ball and closing down defenders. His finishing could have been more clinical at times, but that will hopefully improve as we get to crucial final games of the season.
jubair
what about arshavin apparently getting eight stitches at half time for a gash on his foot, back on in the second half and scores!! and plays again 3 days later!!! this guys is special. another wenger special signing. how AA and the return of eduardo has transformed our club is absolutely amazing, players like RVP, nasri, and cesc will feel a great load lifted off their shoulders. i will make a prediction that we will win the treble this year!!!!!
supersof
what about arshavin apparently getting eight stitches at half time for a gash on his foot, back on in the second half and scores!! and plays again 3 days later!!! this guys is special. another wenger special signing. how AA and the return of eduardo has transformed our club is absolutely amazing, players like RVP, nasri, and cesc will feel a great load lifted off their shoulders. i will make a prediction that we will win the treble this year!!!!!
supersof
Hopefully Wiltshire is watching him very closly in training as he could learn a lot from Arsharvin, they seem pretty similar in playing style.
PENZ
Hopefully Wiltshire is watching him very closly in training as he could learn a lot from Arsharvin, they seem pretty similar in playing style.
PENZ
Great Article Tim, you have summoned -up the month, Brilliantly! Yep, it's got to be Arshavin, but Song, RvP and Bendtner ran him fairly close.
hackneyval
Great Article Tim, you have summoned -up the month, Brilliantly! Yep, it's got to be Arshavin, but Song, RvP and Bendtner ran him fairly close.
hackneyval
Great write up LD and really on the money. Arshavin has revitalised our team. His assist for Van Persie in the Hull game encapsulates everything about his game. Like Cesc he can map out his play in advance. He reads the movement of opponents around him without having to turn in circles as so many of our youngsters seem to do. His calm intelligence in front of goal creates havoc for opposing defences, and he almost always keeps the ball down and on target. His first touch is excellent. It makes Adebayor look careless. The others are learning a lot from this guy and understanding how important it is to speed up the attacking play and get into the box. I agree his style is similar to Wiltshire. Both have phenomenal balance on the ball.
Wyn Mills
Great write up LD and really on the money. Arshavin has revitalised our team. His assist for Van Persie in the Hull game encapsulates everything about his game. Like Cesc he can map out his play in advance. He reads the movement of opponents around him without having to turn in circles as so many of our youngsters seem to do. His calm intelligence in front of goal creates havoc for opposing defences, and he almost always keeps the ball down and on target. His first touch is excellent. It makes Adebayor look careless. The others are learning a lot from this guy and understanding how important it is to speed up the attacking play and get into the box. I agree his style is similar to Wiltshire. Both have phenomenal balance on the ball.
Wyn Mills
Hiddink is waxing lyrical too: http://www.setanta.com//uk/Articles/Football/2009/03/27/Premier-League-Hiddink-on-Arshavin/gnid-46162/
GoonerLou
Hiddink is waxing lyrical too: http://www.setanta.com//uk/Articles/Football/2009/03/27/Premier-League-Hiddink-on-Arshavin/gnid-46162/
GoonerLou
Good job Arshavin. I think that he could show his all abilities in future. Everybody trust him.
Askhat
Good job Arshavin. I think that he could show his all abilities in future. Everybody trust him.
Askhat
 

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