MOSCOW, September 26 (RIA Novosti)
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has refuted accusations that forward Andrei Arshavin lacks professionalism.
The former Russia captain was roundly criticized for his and the team's lackluster performance at Euro 2012, where some claimed he had at times asked colleagues not to pass him the ball.
He was dropped from the country's first two World Cup qualifiers against Northern Ireland and Israel earlier this month by Fabio Capello, who cited his lack of match practice.
But Wenger dispelled rumors that Arshavin had lost interest in the game.
“I have personally a great respect for Andrei Arshavin because sometimes some wrong ideas are circulated about him - that he doesn’t care, but it’s completely the opposite,” the French coach said. “He’s a 200 percent professional who works very hard in training every day.”
Wenger claimed that it was only the form of his attacking players that was keeping the diminutive playmaker out of the side.
"At the moment he’s a victim of the high level of competition that exists for places."
Arshavin is in line for a rare start in Wednesday's League Cup clash against Coventry City.
“I feel he’s unhappy that he doesn’t play because deeply he loves football and he practices every day with 100 per cent commitment. I’m happy to give him some competition on Wednesday night.”
Arshavin was linked with a slew of English Premier League clubs as well as Turkish side Galatasaray and his former club Zenit St. Petersburg in the summer transfer window, but finally stayed at the Emirates at least until January.
His contract with the Premier League side expires in June.
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