Andrey Arshavin on Arsenal regrets and why Gunners star felt 'empty' after four-goal heroics vs Liverpool

JOE KRISHNAN
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Andrey Arshavin knows that regardless of what people think of his time at Arsenal, no one can take away his memories of a game that took place nearly 11 years ago where all eyes were on him.

It was Anfield. Liverpool were chasing their first Premier League title, fighting against Manchester United at the summit. Arsenal, meanwhile, were struggling to stay afloat in the race for the top four and a trip to the title contenders was hardly ideal for Arsene Wenger's side.

It was a crucial game for Arshavin, at least from an individual perspective. The Russian had scored only twice since arriving from Zenit St Petersburg with minutes to spare on deadline day in January and there was pressure on the diminutive forward to start delivering.

The crowd had to wait 36 minutes for the first goal when Cesc Fabregas cut back on the edge of the box and Arshavin hammered home in off the underside of the bar. His next finish was more incisive, firing a powerful effort into the far corner to bring the Gunners level. Both goals prompted a 'shushing' celebration from Arshavin; a message for his doubters.

But there was more to come. With 20 minutes to go, Arshavin found himself alone in the box and slotted underneath Pepe Reina to grab his hat-trick. And in the final minute of normal time, an smart breakaway gave the forward a chance for an incredible fourth and he finished with aplomb into the top corner. His celebration, gesturing with four fingers and shaking his head, indicated that not even Arshavin could have anticipated this.

Arshavin's fourth goal against Liverpool Photo: Getty Images

A last-gasp effort from Yossi Benayoun took some of the gloss off his magnificent goalscoring display as the eight-goal thriller finished all square at 4-4. But the Russian still remembers it as the best moment of his career and he remains the only player to have scored four goals for an opposition team at Anfield in the Premier League.

“I remember now that I was exhausted after the game. I was empty," he said, speaking exclusively to 888 Sport. "I was happy and when you score four goals that is normal. I’m proud that nobody has done it since but I did it. It makes those four goals special.

"I’m sure one day, one guy will repeat it again, but I don’t think it would be possible to do it in this moment. Liverpool play unbelievable football and if not for this crisis they would be champions for sure.”

There were genuine fears that Arshavin would never complete his £15 million move to Arsenal due to a contractual dispute with the Russian club over his loyalty bonus. Finally, a day after the transfer window had closed, his transfer went through - much to his relief.

“I had fears in certain moments that day when I thought it was over and I would have to go back to Zenit," he added.

"But finally I was lucky and we finished our conversations and I was happy that a decision was made so I could move to Arsenal.”

(AFP/Getty Images)

Arshavin, now 38, went back to Zenit in 2013 after spending four years with the Gunners, scoring 31 goals in 144 appearances. A short spell at Kuban Krasnodar was followed by a two-year stint in Kazakhstan with Kairat Almaty and he finally hung up his boots in December 2018.

He also won 75 caps for his country and is fondly remembered by Arsenal fans for his "I'm a Gooner" line when he arrived at the club. But the one regret he has was leaving north London without any silverware and Arshavin feels the board's decision to sell key players contributed to that.

“My only regret is that I didn’t win trophies with Arsenal," he said. "Especially that League Cup final [in 2011] against Birmingham who were relegated after. Even that final we lost.

"The problem was that every year we would lose players. First Samir Nasri, then Cesc, than Robin van Persie. If we could have kept that squad for two or three years it would have been different, I guess.”

Arshavin ended his time at Arsenal with no trophies to his name Photo: Getty

But despite being frozen out in his final year at the club, there is no questioning his affection for the club where he spent four years. No one can take away that night at Anfield or the Champions League tie where he scored against Barcelona, and Arshavin says he will always be a fan.

“I used to watch Arsenal a lot but not so much now because my channel lost the rights to show Premier League football," he said. "But of course, I know the squad and I wish all the best to the guys. And of course I am still a Gooner and I think I will always support that club.”

Read the full 888sport interview with Andrey Arshavin here

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