It may not have been vintage, but Andrei Arshavin made an encouraging start to life at Arsenal in his debut match against Sunderland, even though the Russian could not inspire the Gunners to three crucial pints.
The 27-year-old playmaker was deployed on the right-wing, and the pocket-sized dynamo showed his pace, close control and eye for goal in his first outing at the Emirates.
Arsenal’s new number 23 was giving just over an hour as he regains his match fitness, with Arsene Wenger praising Arshavin but acknowledged that he will need time to adapt to the frenetic style of play in the Premier League.
Wenger: “He has shown in glimpses that he has talent and he will be a player. But he has shown that he is not ready physically and that will come … Once he will be more on the ball, he will affect the game. He nearly scored two goals in the first half.”
The first chance arrived after Arshavin intercepted a poor pass from Andy Reid in the fifth minute, surged forward to the edge of the box before sending his shot narrowly wide of the right post. Ten minutes later Arshvin came closer, rifling a powerful left-footed strike on goal that forced Marton Fulop to palm the ball out for a corner.
Highlights of Andrei Arshavin’s debut for the Gunner can be seen here.
The Russian’s verdict on his own performance can be seen in his post-match interview (watch here).