Andrei Arshavin came onto the field greeted by a chorus of boos and while most of aimed at Arsène Wenger for the decision to take Oxlade-Chamberlain off, some it was still reserved for the little Russian playmaker. If Oxlade-Chamberlain had been taken off for Benayoun, the fans may have held their tongues somewhat, but to take off the energetic young winger for one of the seemingly most disinterested players in today’s game, it is clear why the fans felt the need to voice their annoyance.
This is not the first time Arsenal fans have booed down a player; we all remember what happened to poor Eboue. I had never seen in top flight football a player actually get booed so much that he was substituted and then cheered when he was coming off the field. I felt the reaction he got from the fans was a little too harsh, even though I did understand where the fans frustration was coming from due to the poor performances he was putting in at the time.
He went form being an attacking right-back, delivering good first time crosses, into a clueless wide midfielder that never seemed to know what to do when he was given time on the ball. He always seemed to make the wrong pass or dribble his way into troubled when he should have stopped, looked up and crossed early and in the end the fans reached a point where enough was enough.
It was sad to see him come off to the fans cheering like that, but he did not give up on the football club and came back from it with some intelligent and spirited performances which started to win back some of the fans approval. It was a shame that he left Arsenal to join Galatasaray as they could really do with a player like him at the moment. With all the injuries Arsenal have he could have played in either of the fullback roles or a position in midfield.
In the end, with all the stick he got from the crowd he showed the right attitude. He didn’t shrivel up and play with his head down, instead he stood up tall with his head held high and played with commitment.
Eboue and Arshavin are not the only players that Arsenal fans have felt this way about as the same thing happened with Adebayor. He had a wonderful 2007-08 season where he scored 30 goals in all competitions for Arsenal, but the following season it was as if he felt that he didn’t need to put in the same hard graft as before, and when the fans booed him, he began to sulk. When he left for Manchester City he bemoaned that the Arsenal fans turned on him whilst reminding everyone of his 30 goal conquest, as if that was enough for the fans to just appreciated him being on the pitch.
With Nicklas Bendtner things are a little bit different. In the same season as Eboue getting booed Bendtner was still getting his Arsenal career off the ground, and there were some bumps along the way, but unlike Eboue who put in the hard work to change his luck, Bendtner decided to change his shirt number instead. He changed to number 52 as he felt that the number 26 was an unlucky number. There was also speculation that the number 7 was his favourite/lucky number, but as that was taken he took 52 because 5+2=7. He didn’t take 25 for obvious, Adebayor related, reasons.
Frimpong has come out and said that he has chosen the number 26 to be his squad number to proven Bendtner wrong, and with his performances for Arsenal so far he definitely has. Nicklas Bendtner had delusions of grandeur also, as he felt he should have been an automatic starter for Arsenal, but the lack of passion when on the pitch infuriated the fans. He was always slow to close down the man with the ball, and that is when he even bothered to try, and he never ran into space for someone to pass to him, choosing to stay where he was expecting the pass to come to him.
Emmanuel Eboue showed the fans that he wanted to play for Arsenal football club. It would have been easy for him to say to Arsène Wenger that he doesn’t want to play for the them anymore and wishes to move on. He could have even played with his head down and with a poor attitude, but he didn’t and somebody needs to remind Arshavin of that.
If Arshavin wants to leave then he should say so. If he wants to stay and fight for his place, then on the pitch and too the fans is where he needs to show that desire, because at the moment, it doesn’t look like he could care less, and until the fans feel different, I can see their discontent for him continuing for quite sometime to come.