The date was 23rd May 2006. A little Czech had temporarily left his country’s World Cup training camp, to fly across to North London to seal a permanent transfer to Arsenal. He was dubbed ‘Little Mozart’, for his neat passing play, and his creativity in the middle of the park.
He seemed a like for like replacement for French midfielder Robert Pires, who left for Villarreal after scoring 84 goals in 284 appearances for the club. Rosicky, though did take some time to adapt to the pace of the English game. He scored his first goal for the club, a screamer against Hamburg, in Germany in a Champions League game. It seemed very similar to a goal he had scored for Czech Republic against USA in the World Cup. Rosicky seemed a perfect fit in a very creative midfield, with the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Alexander Hleb.
Alexander Hleb, the captain of Belarus, and Tomas Rosicky were both deployed on the flanks, to good effect. Both were similar sort of players, exported from the Bundesliga. Despite, predominantly playing as a central attacking midfielder for Dortmund, Rosicky slided in well on the left flank. His next goals, came after 4 months, at Anfield.
Arsenal were drawn to play Liverpool twice in a week, at Anfield, once in the FA Cup, and once in the Carling Cup. The FA Cup win was sealed 3-1, with two goals from Rosicky, one of which was a peach.
Rosicky had another fairly quiet second season in 2007-2008. Arsenal finally emerged from the shadow of Thierry Henry, and took the Premier League by storm, as a young side played some brilliant attacking football. Niggling injury problems meant he constantly frequented the physio’s room, and ended up making only 18 appearances, in a season, which unraveled towards the end, after a promising few months.
Rosicky was hit hard when he missed the entirety of the 2008-2009 campaign, as his hamstring tendon injury problem recurred. Rumours were strife that Arsene Wenger would let go of this obviously talented, but injury prone player. However, Wenger kept faith in the player, as he returned to team action in the 2009-2010 season. After 18 months, he returned to full first team training with the team.
He signed a new two and half year deal in January 2010, stating that he wanted to repay the faith the club had shown in him, despite his injury issues. Rosicky had 5 assists till then and the end of the season. The 2010-2011 campaign was disappointing for Rosicky, as he managed a solitary goal, against Leyton Orient in a FA Cup game. By now, he had fallen behind in the pecking order of Wilshere, Fabregas and Nasri. His injury problems returned and he missed the rear end of the season. This season started off in the same fashion as Arsenal were humiliatingly crushed 8-2 at Old Trafford, a game which Rosicky started.
As of late, Rosicky has made a mockery of his past problems, and reminded Gunner fans, why he was signed in the first place. His burst of pace in the centre of midfield, helps the team switch from defence to attack in a matter of seconds. He has also improved his passing, which he was criticized in the past, for being too slow, to compliment Arsenal’s style of play.
One important aspect of Rosicky’s game is switching play, and tempo. Though Arteta, is the best man for the job, Rosicky can be instrumental in forward surges. He can involve in quick interplay with wide players, while also drifting wide occasionally to bring in wide players into the centre. He has been quick to form a bit of chemistry with Robin van Persie. van Persie, who has been the best player for Arsenal this season, can be often seen, coming back in midfield. This allows Rosicky enough time, to create space and make inroads into the opposition.
Another feature of Rosicky’s game, of late has been his pressing. He can be instantly seen barracking the opposition’s midfield. This has allowed the defence to move deep, while also allowing the midfield, to brace itself for an attack. As was clear in the game against Spurs, when Arsenal completely dominated midfield. Rosicky was in the thick of action, as he quickly won back the ball from Gareth Bale and Rafael van der Vaart in key areas.
Rosicky brings with him passion. His body language is anything but negative. His celebration against Spurs was that of a passionate footballer. Against Milan, Rosicky was outstanding, in midfield, as he played alongside the prodigious Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Mark van Bommel just couldn’t get a grip on them, as Arsenal raced to a 3-0 half-time lead. Arsenal may have lost 4-3 on aggregate, but the performance of the team as a whole, and Rosicky in particular was promising. His dejection at the end of it all was for all to see.
He is finally coming to the player Arsenal have lacked in midfield in recent times. A player with a bit of bite. His recent performances have been resurgent. Arsenal fans can now hope for much better things to come from him. ‘Little Mozart’ is reborn.