Andrei Arshavin has confirmed a last minute return to Zenit St Petersburg, the club he left in 2009, on loan from Arsenal. The Russian champions had been linked with a loan move for Arshavin all month, as had money-rich Anzhi Makhachkala, with Arshavin on the periphery of Arsenal's first team. After he made an impact against Sunderland two weeks ago, assisting Thierry Henry with a superb cross, it seemed impossible that Arshavin would move, especially with Henry returning to the MLS and Theo Walcott dropping in form. Even today, Arsene Wenger said "not at the moment, no", but the moment would occur 6 hours later.
It's an excellent move for Zenit, who need to replace Danny after he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury, sidelining him for the rest of the season. Zenit are top of the Russian Premier League, but with 12 matches to go, a 6 point lead doesn't look as good without Danny. Arshavin, despite his loss of form in the last 12 months, still has excellent vision, and if played in his preferred position behind the striker, a position he never played in for Arsenal, he could help Zenit seal another league table. It also makes sense for Arshavin; having not played regularly, and been booed the last time he played at the Emirates Stadium, one could understand if he wanted to return to Zenit where he'll be viewed as a hero. With the European Championships in the summer, he can be more assured of a starting place by playing well for Zenit, in his favoured position.
Conversely, the loan of Arshavin doesn't make a whole lot of sense from Arsenal's perspective. With Theo Walcott in a bad run of form, Aaron Ramsey hurt and Arsenal short of creativity, the decision to rid themselves of one of their more creative players looks foolhardy. Furthermore, with Arsenal's injury history as it is, weakening the squad with no chance of replacing Arshavin is an extremely questionable move. The Gunners will receive £1m for the loan, which is expected to conclude at the end of the Russian season in June. If Arsenal did make the move for financial reasons, it's a damning indictment of their board and the supposed "sustainable club" motto. If it was made for footballing reasons, and Arsenal then suffer another spate of injuries in the wide areas, and perhaps through the middle, it'll be one more black mark against Arsene Wenger's recent managerial record.