Arshavin - I've lost sparkle
Andrey Arshavin feels he is playing a different style of football from when he first arrived at Arsenal.
Last Updated: 03/09/10 5:54pm
Arsenal forward Andrey Arshavin feels he is playing a different style of football from when he first arrived at the Emirates.
The 29-year-old has shown fluctuating form since signing for the Gunners from Zenit St Petersburg for £15million in January last year.
While the Russian international has shown glimpses of pure genius, such as his memorable four-goal feast at Liverpool, he has also displayed a tendency to drift in and out of matches.
Arshavin, who has netted two goals already this Premier League season, feels his play is "more effective" but "less sparkling" than it was when he joined the North London club, and admits he struggles himself to explain his inconsistencies.
"The year and a half in England has significantly changed me," Arshavin told Russian newspaper Sport-Express.
"I became calmer, more professional and spend more time with my family.
"As for football I can say that my style has also altered - it is more effective, but less sparkling. I don't remember when was the last time I scored a really beautiful goal.
"It is frustrating. I tried to analyse this, but can find no answers.
"It is likely that my injuries last year had an effect, because on three occasions I was out for a month, but it is feeble to talk about injuries."
Arshavin is part of a Gunners attacking outfit that has never been short of firepower, with rejuvenated England winger Theo Walcott scoring four goals already this campaign.
However, weak spots in defence have been highlighted in recent seasons, prompting manager Arsene Wenger's captures of Sebastien Squillaci and Laurent Koscielny this summer.
And centre-back Thomas Vermaelen insists strong defensive form is key to Arsenal's title challenge, saying that he takes greater pleasure from keeping clean sheets than scoring goals.
"It sounds silly, but as a defender you are happier after a 6-0 win with the clean sheet than if you have scored one goal (personally) but you concede two," Vermaelen told Arsenal TV Online.
"Maybe for some people they are not happy to hear that, but for me the most important thing is to defend and to defend as a team as well, and then we will get further as a team.
"If we defend first then we can win games. After that we will see."