LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 05: Andrey Arshavin of Arsenal reacta during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Sunderland at Emirates Stadium on March 5, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Arsenal's biggest ever signing, Andrei Arshavin, is set to play for Arsenal Reserves tonight, along with Marouane Chamakh, Park Chu-Young and Yossi Benayoun. Benik Afobe and Carl Jenkinson will make their return from injury in a strong lineup. The reserves are playing away against Norwich City Reserves at Carrow Road at 7 PM GMT/2 PM ET.
It is hard to see this as anything but a demotion for Arshavin. After not playing against either Sunderland or Milan, despite changing the league game at Sunderland, and then featuring for the reserves, rumours of a departure will surely increase. Benayoun, Park and Chamakh are probably in the reserves to get playing time, with the latter two competing for the "backup striker who doesn't come on unless he's Thierry Henry" role on the bench. Benayoun was disappointed about not playing over the weekend, so he may be using this game to show why he should be playing more in the first team.
With almost everyone in Arsenal's starting XI disappointing over the past few games, there should many places up for grabs before the North London Derby, but given Arsene Wenger's previous history with rotation, that seems unlikely.
Meanwhile, the return of Jenkinson, and to a lesser extent, Afobe, is a welcome one. Jenkinson had been set to be Arsenal's starting right back until a stress fracture in his back caused him to miss almost 4 months of action. Afobe has been out since the beginning of the season, after impressing in the Emirates Cup. There is a chance that he could go on loan to further regain fitness before the start of next season.