Having signed for the now customary ‘undisclosed fee’ in May 2006, Tomas Rosicky slowly warmed his way into the hearts of the Arsenal fans, with thirteen goals in his first two seasons at the North London club, having spent the earlier stages of his career in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund.
The Czech Repulic international arrived at the Emirates Stadium with great expectations. Fans of BVB had christened him ‘Little Mozart’ due to his ability to orchestrate the game and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger described him as an experienced player with “great technique, skill on the ball and sharp passing.” With superb goals against Liverpool and Hamburg and a number of key assists, Rosicky was living up to his potential. His link up play in a strong midfield alongside Cesc Fabregas, Alex Hleb and Mathieu Flamini particularly caught the eye. His movement with the ball and eye for a pass had devastating effect.
The good form, however, would lead to injury, as it has with so many Arsenal players since. Limping off the field in a 3-0 FA Cup win over Newcastle in January 2008, Tomas appeared to have nothing but a minor hamstring strain. Wenger initially described the injury as nothing to worry about, with a return in “days, not weeks”, but the actual diagnosis was much worse. Tomas would require surgery and would miss the Euro 2008 championships in Austria and Switzerland. It has since appeared almost en-vogue for in form players at Arsenal to incur injuries – Diaby, Eduardo, Ramsey and most recently Wilshere have all fallen victim to the unsettling trend.
The return of the Czech was eagerly anticipated by fans and players alike. Rosicky is a player that gets the best out of others and ex-team mate Fabregas has always been full of his praises “He’s the type of player you enjoy playing alongside and as a guy he’s amazing.” More recently, Wenger has declared his “love” for the skilful midfielder. Whether you are a Czech, die-hard Arsenal fan or simply a follower of the Premier League, it is hard to disagree that Rosicky is a man who quietly, yet effectively goes about his job in a calm, efficient manner.
With worrying concerns over his career, Tomas eventually returned to fitness in September 2009, in a Premier League game against Manchester City, 20 months since his last competitive match. In a 4-2 defeat, Rosicky made a cameo appearance, grabbing a consolation goal and reminding Gooners everywhere what they had missed. From then on, however, his Arsenal career was somewhat ‘stop-start’ with very few consectutive games as a result of consistent injuries.
Despite his past problems, the 2011/12 season has given Rosicky a great opportunity to shine, with the departures of Fabregas and Nasri opening new opportunities for minutes. The experienced Czech international captain, who January signing Thomas Eisfeld has described as his ‘hero’, has already made 26 appearances this term and although he may not have replaced the world class ability of friend and former team mate Fabregas, his quality performances deserve to be noticed.
Sunday 26th February 2011 was perhaps one of the most prominent dates in Rosicky’s Arsenal career – The North London derby. In a 5-2 victory over the enemy, Rosicky began to show the ‘Little Mozart’ within, dictating play with a number of accurate balls, penetrative runs and the desire that ignites the atmosphere within the stadium. His goal summed up his performance – A desire to get beyond the midfield with the ball, involve the full-backs, get into the box and get shots on goal. The one-two with Sagna and delightful dink over Brad Friedel put a smile on the face of every Arsenal fan. This was a player who had worked his socks off to get back to fitness and back to form.
Prior to the turn of 2012, critics may have put him in the same bracket as the likes of Arshavin, Chamakh and Park, who have all been labelled ‘surplus to requirements’, but this Man of the Match performance, along with his season, has shown that this man has much more to offer and as Arsene has said: “When he has freedom from injury he’s a fantastic player.”
With a new contract expected to be offered soon, Little Mozart still has a few more scores to write for Arsenal yet.