Arshavin a creative force says Wenger
Arsene Wenger maintains Andrey Arshavin is the most creative force in the Premier League - and is set to unleash the Russian against title rivals Manchester City on Sunday.
The 29-year-old admits he has had "some good games and some bad, nothing unusual" this season. While it has certainly not been the same impact which followed his arrival from Zenit St Petersburg in a £15m deal during January 2009, Wenger feels the diminutive attacker has contributed plenty to the team, with five goals so far.
"If you look at the stats, he is the player who has created more chances than everybody else in the Premier League this season, so his numbers are quite surprising to people who think he has not done so well," Wenger said. "I believe that since the start of the season in the Premier League, he has been better at creating chances than anyone else."
Wenger is likely to have to soon consider moves to perhaps tie Arshavin into a longer-term deal, as Arsenal have done with many of their key men. "He has a long future at the club - as long as his contract lasts at least, or until we extend his contract, and that is for I think 18 months," the Arsenal manager explained. "We are always in negotiations now because when you sign a player for four years, after two years you have to renegotiate so we keep it as quiet as possible."
Arsenal look set to come up against their former striker Emmanuel Adebayor on Sunday, the Togolese having netted a hat-trick in City's UEFA Europa League win over Polish outfit Lech Poznan. Adebayor made the headlines for the wrong reasons last season, both for his over-the-top goal celebration in the 4-2 victory and then stamping on Robin van Persie's face, which earned him a three-match ban. Wenger, however, insists there is no sense of ill-feeling toward the former Arsenal favourite, sold for £25m during the summer of 2009.
"When you accept to sell a player you cannot accuse him of not being loyal," Wenger conceded, who signed Adebayor from Monaco in January 2006. "A manager tries to influence the club's life, but as well the life of the player. When you can help a player to have a successful career and a happy life, you think you do your job."
The Frenchman insists Arsenal will not let themselves get concerned over just which starting XI big-spending City boss Roberto Mancini will select. "What I can master is the team that I will play and the way we focus and the way we play," Wenger said. "We feel we have of course won again and we are very close to doing something special. There is a good spirit in the side, we have seen already at Chelsea that we are close to winning these big games and that is what we want to do."
Arsenal are five points behind Chelsea, who lead City by just two points after eight matches. "It is an open title chase. The more consistent team will be rewarded," Wenger admitted. "If you invest what they [City] do and you consider them not serious, then you must have a good sense of humour. They have a good side with plenty of good players."