Arshavin targets Arsenal glory
New Russian signing wants to win both Premier League and European Cup
Thursday 05 February 2009
Andrei Arshavin knows just what is expected of any Arsenal player – to help deliver the Premier League title and European glory.
The Russia international finally saw his protracted transfer from Zenit St Petersburg confirmed late on Tuesday afternoon, almost 24 hours after the deadline. With all documentation now fully ratified by the Premier League and Football Association – albeit with some paperwork understood to have arrived when business was supposed to have been formally completed – Arshavin has returned home to await the formality of a work permit before returning to London.
While Arsenal fans are likely to have to be patient for the debut of the playmaker, given that the Russian domestic season finished in November, Arshavin is in no doubt of the expectations which await him.
"Arsenal's aim is to win the Premier League title and be European champions," Arshavin told the Russian news channel Vesti. "That is always the target for this club, so everybody knows that."
Arshavin added: "The FA had to approve the deal. Everyone was waiting for their decision, and once that decision was taken and my transfer was registered with the FA, I became an Arsenal player. I have already had a training session, and I am pleased with how I have been welcomed. Everyone has been very hospitable."
The deal to bring Arshavin to Emirates Stadium on a four-and-a-half-year contract is understood to be for an initial £12m, with some £3m dependent on add-on clauses.
Although the Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, was clearly delighted to have finally landed his man, Arshavin turned out to be the club's only signing of the transfer window.
While Wenger continues to have great faith in his young side, Arsenal are outside the top four of the Premier League, five points behind Aston Villa. They travel to White Hart Lane on Sunday for the north London derby against Tottenham, a match which is likely to come too soon for Arshavin.
The Arsenal chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, maintains Wenger's vision continues to represent sound judgement. "It is vital that Arsenal are successful this year, but it is equally vital that Arsenal are successful next season and the season after that," Gazidis said. "When you have an outstanding group of young players, as we have, that is always going to be a delicate balancing act.
"I think sometimes the sheer quality of our young players is underestimated," he added. "Of course we still need to develop consistency, and that is natural with any young team – but our players are learning and improving from week to week.
"Marrying all these things is a delicate task, but Arsène Wenger does a masterful job in managing the process, giving young players opportunities to compete at the highest level and mentoring their development. I believe that his Arsenal teams have played, and will continue to play, some of the most attractive and entertaining football anywhere in the world."
The severe weather which hit London earlier this week not only crippled the capital's transport networks, which meant that some staff were unable to travel to the Premier League's offices on transfer deadline day, but it also caused the postponement of the FA Cup fourth-round replay against Cardiff at the Emirates Stadium. Burnley will visit the winners of that tie following their victory over West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday.
However, should Arsenal progress from the rearranged game on Monday 16 February, they face something of a fixture pile-up. The FA has confirmed that Burnley, who knocked the Gunners out of the Carling Cup this season, would travel to the Emirates on the weekend of 7-8 March, leaving Arsenal potentially a tie behind and forced to play catch-up.
They are away to Roma in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie on 11 March and have limited space to squeeze in another game ahead of the international break for the World Cup qualifiers later that month.
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