Many Arsenal supporters will have been left perplexed after watching Russia’s demolition of Czech Republic and wondering if what they saw actually happened.
It was like travelling back in time. Four years ago Andrey Arshavin was tearing European defences open with his energy, guile and creativity as Russia made it to the semi-finals of Euro 2008.
On Friday night, the diminutive Arsenal flop, on loan to Zenit St Petersburg, was brilliant, begging the question why can’t he do it in the Premier League?
In a Gunners shirt he looks drained of confidence – for his national side he is the spearhead for everything they do and an outstanding matchwinner.
Maybe it’s time to admit Arsène Wenger may be to blame for his fall from grace at club level. He’s clearly not got the best out of him and it’s a shame – Arsenal could do with an in-form Arshavin.
It may seem crazy to suggest this when they have Cristiano Ronaldo in their side, but Portugal suffer from a severe lack of firepower and it will cost them dearly again in Euro 2012.
Looking closely at their possible starting line-up, they are among the strongest of contenders, but if they had a half-decent number nine then they would be favourites.
Instead they are limping along with the battered old warhorse Helder Postiga.
It’s about time Portugal found a young gem to stick the ball away and actually cause the opponents’ defence problems with some movement up front.
Ronaldo will once again prove crucial, and with the likes of Nani, João Moutinho, Pepe and Fábio Coentrão to help him they should be serious contenders instead of pretenders.
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