Arshavin aims to conquer the fourth place  

Monday, 2 March 2009

While Andrei Arshavin has conceded he is struggling to keep up with the pace of The Premier League at present, Arsenal’s record signing insists the club as a whole are desperate to win the race for fourth place.

When completing a reported £15 million move from Zenit St Petersburg at the start of February, Arshavin joined a club in Arsenal that are currently struggling for form and a fourth consecutive 0-0 draw against Fulham at the weekend leaves them six points behind Aston Villa.

Their predicament would have been even more serious but for two late goals for Stoke City against Villa on Sunday and, with disaffected fans making their feelings very clear at Emirates Stadium, Arsene Wenger faces perhaps the sternest test of his managerial career.

Failing to qualify for the Champions League would be a real setback for the North London club but Arshavin insists that such a scenario is not even being contemplated by the Arsenal players.

“Nobody even dares to think about it!” Arshavin told Sport Express. “Of course we have made our position in the race for the place in top four more complicated but the fight is not over yet.

“It turned out a mere copy of the previous game with Sunderland. Again we had a lot of scoring chances but nils remained on the scoreboard. It is the fourth goalless draw of Arsenal so the feelings are not very pleasant.”

When asked if the goal drought was discussed within the team, Arshavin added: “Almost no. And should it be discussed? Everybody understands it by himself that it is not normal.

“I came here not to count my personal goals or assists. Most important is that our team wins and we are only drawing now and every draw moves us away from our main task – getting into the Champions League next year.”

Arshavin was known to be short of fitness when joining Arsenal as Zenit’s season ended in November, with the Russian championship adopting an alternative calendar in order to avoid complications with the freezing winter that hits the country.

However, he displayed some clever touches during his debut against Sunderland and further impressed on Saturday when creating a number of chances for his wasteful team-mates.

The 27-year-old admits he is struggling with a lack of fitness but expects to recover his best form in the coming months, and has no qualms with Wenger’s decision to utilise him on both wings and through the centre when necessary.

“I was rather tired even in the first half and in the second one I felt dreadful fatigue,” he added.

“To tell the truth I lack freshness for the whole match yet. But I assume that it will become easier and easier every match. I should get into my best form as soon as possible as in two and a half months we are having holidays again.

“That is why it was very important for me that I spent all 90 minutes on the field against Fulham.

“No, position changing makes no trouble. The other question is how effective I am on this or that position. But that is for the coach to decide.”


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