Comparethemarket.com have been enjoying brisk business thanks to their promotion which states: ‘Get rewarded with an exclusive meerkat soft toy when you buy insurance.’ Likewise, Arsenal have also been rewarded for buying on the transfer market. However, instead of a soft toy, Arsenal were rewarded with a soft winning goal against Swansea. And that goal was taken with aplomb by Arsenal’s very own incomparable meerkat, Andrey Arshavin.
Poor Arshavin has had more than his fair share of detractors, who decry his workrate. Yet, the Russian is a man or meerkat for a big occasion, so when a chance falls to him you can expect him to take it. Even from an extremely acute angle, Arshavin – a consummate professional – made the conversion of the chance look easy. That’s why he’s a class above most of the Arsenal team. Unlike them, he won’t choke when the pressure’s on.
Yet, Arshavin’s not the most popular with the fans. One supporter told me: ‘Arshavin’s let me down’. Scoring four at Anfield may get your name written on the inside of one of the walls of the Emirates Stadium, but that’s not such an achievement when people remind you that Julio ‘The Beast’ Baptista did the same (albeit in the Carling Cup).
Anyway, I’m hopeful now that our meerkat will become just as loved as those little critters on the TV commercials. Like Alexander Meerkat, Arshavin seems to care about the poor pups of Meer London Colney-kovo. I saw him putting his arm around Emmanuel Frimpong at half-time and he even offered words of advice to Bacari Sagna, who’s no pup at the age of 28. But Arshavin’s the skipper of Russia. He’s a chess master on the pitch for his country and maybe, just maybe, we’ll see him deliver on a regular basis for Arsenal now…
Now that the meerkat has competition, in the form of an otter! Okay, I mean Arteta. Arsenal took ‘the Mikel’ out of Everton with a successful £10m bid on transfer deadline day and the Spanish midfield general dictated play against Swansea in a way Arsenal fans haven’t seen at all this season. He proved what a much-needed signing he was in just 90 minutes in an Arsenal shirt.
At the back, fellow signing Per Mertesacke also did well, and seemed to bring out the best in his defensive Laurent Koscielny. Even Keiran Gibbs looked less shaky than he has recently, although he was put through his paces by Swansea’s Scott Sinclair.
Wojciech Szczeny continued his incredible start to the season with another clean sheet, but he had a flap at the end of the game and Swansea almost equalised with one of the last kicks of the game.
Many people will say Arsenal’s performance was less than convincing, but you can’t knock three points. Even the black ‘Forward?’ poster set up for around £800 opposite the ground could not quell the sense of optimism at the Emirates. Three points against Swansea at home could be a giant step for meerkat-kind, if Arshavin continues to impress. In fact, Arshavin might decide he’s going to be our best signing of all. About time too, some might say.