Arsenal fans will have looked on in disgruntled frustration as outcast midfielder Andrey Arshavin ran the show for Russia against the Czech Republic. The confidence and ability expressed in Wroclaw’s Municipal Stadium echoed his brilliance at Euro 2008 that earmarked him as one of the players of the tournament.
Spurs fans can be equally as miffed by Roman Pavlyuchenko’s strike in Russia’s 4-1 rout. Pavlyuchenko came to north London with a heavy price tag and high optimism back in 2008, but like Arshavin never settled down in the Premier League.
Witnessing two failures of the English game do so well for their national side is truly exasperating. Arshavin was instrumental in two of Russia’s goals, while Pavlyuchenko thundered in a late fourth to exhibit just what Spurs have been missing. Many Euro 2012 Tips had predicted Dick Advocaat’s men to do well, and on this display they look set to at least reach the knock-out stages.
The performance is a further example of overseas players that fail to live up to expectation in the Premier League but do so well for their national sides. While Arshavin doesn’t dare challenge the opposition in an Arsenal shirt, his skill and ability was on full display in Wroclaw as he pranced through a hacking Czech midfield.
What was most impressive was his confidence. With the captains armband the 31-year-old looked self-assured, commanding and most importantly talkative. He’s never said a word in four seasons at Arsenal, but the respect he wielded from the Russia squad and fans was evident. The markets on Betfair reacted to this win but shortening Russia’s odds on winning the competition.
The Euros acted as a gleaming shop window for the winger three years ago, securing a high-profile move to Arsenal on the back of impressive displays. Should he maintain his dominant start to this summer’s tournament, that jarred door out of the Emirates may well be fully opened.