Advocaat: Arshavin not suited to bit-part role

Russia boss Dick Advocaat has criticised Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger for not playing Andriy Arshavin enough, saying it is behind the forward's below-par performances for both club and country.

The former South Korea and Rangers chief, who worked with Arshavin during his time as Zenit St. Petersburg manager, believes that Arshavin deserves a regular starting place in the Gunners' team.

“One of his problems is that he plays 20 minutes per game. Arsenal head coach Arsene Wenger uses him as a player who can be fielded in the second half and who can refresh the game," he told Sport-Express.

“Andriy is showing willingness to give the team the best of what he has. I worked with him for over two years at Zenit and I know who he is. A brilliant player of a single episode."

Although supportive of Arshavin, Advocaat admitted that he has doubts whether the Russian international is the right style of player for the Emirates Stadium outfit, with Wenger expecting high a work rate from his players - an attribute that Arshavin lacks.

"At Arsenal it is not enough to be a player of an episode. Expecting from him a 90-minute running means not knowing and not understanding Arshavin," he said.

The 64-year-old also believes that Arshavin has more to give to the national team and dismissed reports that the playmaker is picked based on his reputation.

“To be honest, this team lacks leaders. But if you ask abroad, whom of the Russian football players they know, you’ll find out that everyone knows the name of only one player [Arshavin]," he added.

"We have no ‘special relationships’, none of that. Please, do not think that Arshavin is fielded just because he is Arshavin."

With Arshavin’s club career in doubt, Advocaat is optimistic about the 30-year-old’s future in the national team but hinted that he may lose his place if an appropriate replacement materialises

"But I want to emphasise one thing. I respect him as a player and a person, but If we find anyone better than Arshavin to replace him, this anybody will play instead of him."

By Matt Maltby