Andrey Arshavin: Player In My Pocket

LONDON ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 11: This photo in no way captures the wonder that is Andrey Arshavin. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

Player In My Pocket is a weekly Wednesday feature in which Kirsten Schlewitz picks a player to put in her pocket. And no, these players are not really held against their will in her pocket, so please do not slap her with a tort of false imprisonment. She has enough torts in her life already.

I've been threatening to create a column like this for awhile. I don't quite remember how it started, putting players in my pocket. Clearly there is no football player who is actually capable of fitting inside my pocket. And although there are no hard and fast guidelines for inclusion inside this hypothetical pocket, the players chosen are typically small (at least, in relation to the other players on the field--none would really be small next to me), slightly quirky, and give off the vibe of needing their head patted or their cheeks pinched. But there are really no requirements. Someday I might pick a 6'3" dude who could put me in his pocket. My game, my rules.

So here we go...

This week's award goes to the man who I believe was the original player I put in my pocket: Andrey Arshavin.

Now those of you who have read much of my writing know that I have quite an affection for Arshavin. I refer to him, variously, as the little meerkat or the Russian crazy. I live for the Arshavin Q&A updates on Dirty Tackle, and firmly believe that Brooks should alert me personally when one is published (if you haven't seen these, read them immediately after finishing this post. Unless you are in a public library). Plus, he's a little bit insane on the pitch, bringing a touch of excitement to Arsenal matches, which usually need a dose of the unexpected.

The man even defies geometry, as he demonstrates in this goal:

I have watched this video dozens of times and I still can't figure out how he does it.

But life with Andrey in the pocket isn't just crazy question and answer sessions and impossible goal maneuvers. Arshavin's had to endure his share of criticism since moving to Arsenal in January 2009. He started off strong, even scoring all four goals against Liverpool in a match that ended 4-4 and ending the season as a supporters' favorite. But with too much hype comes inevitable backlash, and now many whisper about how Andrey is just not consistent enough. Obviously he needs a pat on the head.

Consistent or not, I find him a breath of fresh air, on the pitch and off. He's a tricky little meerkat, popping up out of nowhere and slamming the ball far harder than one might think would be possible from this tiny little dude. Plus he looks as though he's eight years old, he has a totally impish grin, and he blows bubbles in his milkshakes. Clearly this guy needs to be carried around in my pocket.

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