Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted that even he had not expected new signing Andrey Arshavin to adjust to the pace and style of the Premier League quite so quickly, but is glad he has been proved wrong.
The Russian international joined the Gunners from Zenit St Petersburg for £15 million at the end of the winter transfer window, and has made an instant impression at his new club, netting a stunning first goal against Blackburn last weekend.
The diminutive playmaker needed eight stitches in his right foot at half-time against Sam Allardyce's side, but was determined to play on and bag his first goal in Arsenal colours, with his resilience - as well as his intelligent play - impressing the Gunners boss.
"I've said in the past that we shouldn't expect too much from players that sign in January until the following season - I was obviously wrong about that for Andrey Arshavin! And I'm happy about that," he said in his programme notes ahead of Tuesday night's FA Cup clash against Hull City. "He has personality, vision and intelligence, and he's adapted very quickly because he is resilient and works very hard. Also, because he is cup-tied in Europe, he knows he can concentrate purely on domestic football. "Andrey had eight stitches in his right foot at half-time on Saturday. He is a tough boy though, and if you want to win things you need people like that. Softness is detrimental to success, but he is not soft." While, club captain, Cesc Fabregas also commented on the immediate impact Arshavin has had at the north London outfit. "I think he's made a big difference since coming into the team and you can see straight away that he's a special player." he said.
"When he plays his first touch, when he goes through and dribbles, he always makes the right decision - I was very happy for him to score his first goal because I'm sure it was the first of many he will score for Arsenal. "He certainly likes that kind of goal [against Blackburn] - in these situations defenders see such a small space that they don't think he can do anything from the byline, but small, quick players like him can produce from there. It was a great strike."
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