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Football Betting: Arshavin deal echoes Tevez saga

Premier League RSS / / 04 February 2009 /

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Andrei Arshavin's arrival adds an extra dimension to Arsene Wenger's squad but why should Arsenal be granted more time to get their paperwork to the FA? And will Premier League clubs really be consulting their lawyers every time the Russian scores against them? Regardless, says Ralph Ellis, as the snow melts the race for Premier League fourth is hotting up.

When is a deadline not a deadline? When it applies to Arsenal signing Andrei Arshavin, it would seem. The January transfer window was already closing nearly two days late when FIFA ruled it would end at 5pm on Monday. Somehow, Arsenal then seem to have got another 23 hours and five minutes before all the paperwork was tied up for their £15million purchase of Russia's star from Euro 2008.

Already there are rumours that Sheffield United are getting ready to sue, on the basis that if they'd stayed up because West Ham didn't have Carlos Tevez, by now they would be ready to qualify for the Champions League, and only Arshavin would stop them! Seriously, the affair does have echoes of the whole Tevez situation, and you fear there might be a few of m'learned friends getting ready to claim compensation for every goal Arshavin scores. And it's a fair question to ask why anybody deserves more time to complete the paperwork for a transfer that was first discussed last summer, regardless of whether it snowed in London on Monday or not.

The transfer is significant, because it adds an extra dimension to Arsene Wenger's squad even though he's unlikely to be fit enough to start in Sunday's North London derby with Spurs. It gives the Gunners four top strikers to pick from in the last part of the season, and that could yet be a fifth with Croatian ace Eduardo having already played a reserve game to begin his comeback from the horrific injury he suffered at Birmingham last season.

Arsenal are [1.94] to finish in the top four despite being five points behind Aston Villa. Close to even money to retain the big four status quo is beginning to look like great value because while Wenger has strengthened, the cracks in Martin O'Neill's squad are beginning to show. And don't forget they've been to the wire before when it comes to qualifying for the Champions League - they pipped Spurs on the final day with the help of the great lasagne fiasco.

Villa will make significant changes for tonight's FA Cup replay with Doncaster and could be worth laying at [1.34]. So far this season their shadow side have failed to win home UEFA Cup ties with Icelandic club Hafnarfjordur, with Litex Lovech from Bulgaria, MSK Zilina from Slovakia as well as in the League Cup against Queens Park Rangers.

O'Neill is also admitting this morning that he doesn't want Fabio Capello to add to the workload of his young English side by using too many of them in this month's friendly in Spain. "I hope Fabio would be mindful that my players have played a lot of games," he's told John Wragg in the Daily Express. "There could be six of my players picked and as this is a friendly I hope he would look at it from a club viewpoint."

Villa have been playing with great spirit, but O'Neill's concerns underline their lack of depth and the manager's natural caution in the market meant he didn't sign anybody new apart from Emile Heskey. "Other players we thought about were too expensive. We couldn't compete in that market," he admits. He might have added that was even if he'd been allowed extra time the same as Arsenal!

Five things you might not know about Andrei Arshavin

1. Born in Leningrad in 1981, his middle name is Sergeyevich.


2. He went to the Smena football school in Minsk. Other former pupils include Russian international Vladislav Radimov, and the school has just been given a lottery grant of three million roubles - about £60,000 - to continue its work.


3. He made his debut for Zenit St Petersburg in England - in a 3-0 InterToto Cup win against Bradford City in 2000.


4. He graduated from college with a diploma in fashion design - and wrote his thesis on the development of the sportswear production process


5. Zenit's 2007 Russian title victory was the first time they had won the league since the old Soviet days in 1984.

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