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Tommy Gun

This article has been a little while in coming. I meant to pen it after his comeback at Manchester City, but the resulting furore curtailed that one and September was one hell of a month work wise. I wrote an article last December reviewing Eduardo`s return to reserve team action, by February he was in the first team and scoring again, making it a 12 month absence. Tomas Rosicky was injured a month earlier than Eduardo and came back seven months later. Whilst Rosicky did not have to bear the same kind of tangible physical scars suffered by his Brazilian team mate, the mental fortitude he has shown to return will have been just as trying. Eduardo may still shudder at the thought of a crunching challenge (though he shows little sign of it when he plays), Rosicky has had to live with the very real fear of pulling up again every time he breaks into a sprint. Indeed, his hamstring has gone ping on several occasions during his recovery.

I made it quite clear early on in his 20 month stint in the abyss that I never expected him to return- I don`t think I was alone in that assumption. Having had his hamstring operated on so many times is bound to have a near terminal effect on somebody whose staple profession is to run for an hour and a half twice a week. (Unless you`re Emmanuel Adebayor, who proved you can actually make a very good living by ambling around like a dog sniffing shit for three hours a week). It is still wise to exercise caution, a good deal of Rosicky`s original hamstring is lying in a skip somewhere in Prague and at the age of 29, he`s probably past the age where he can buy in another one off the shelf. The fact that contract negotiations have yet to begin, according to Little Mozart himself, seems to elucidate that the manager retains some small scepticism. Should Rosicky make it to Christmas without further setbacks, I would imagine the kid gloves would be removed for the congratulatory golden handshake and supplementary parker pen.

However, for now I`m willing to put such discussion aside and simply say that is good to see him back. Not just on a human level, but because of what he clearly adds to our team. Over the last eighteen months, Arsenal has become at times a ponderous team of ditherers (though there has been improvement on that front since the arrival of Arshavin). Rosicky is a player of energy with the experience to know that simplicity is genius. Get the ball, look up, release it to a well placed team mate, move and look for it again. If there`s an opportunity to shoot, take it. Rosicky oils the wheels of our attack; he has an eye for the exquisite pass as well as the simple one (his defence carving through ball for Bendtner in Liege springs to mind). Rosicky is not an individual virtuoso as some of our attacking players have been wont to be, he makes those around him play better too. Arsene has often spoken about his preference for risk takers on a football pitch, footballers that look to play the decisive pass (which explains why he correctly stood by Alex Hleb for so long), Rosicky is a player that receives the ball and instantly drives the team forward. I`d forgotten how talented he is and I`d forgotten how crucial he is to our team. Cesc Fabregas clearly trusts him and plays better when Rosicky is around. And when Cesc Fabregas plays well, Arsenal play well.

I would venture that Rosicky might not quite be as talented as Arshavin, but he certainly works a lot harder for the team, tracking back and adding a balance to our midfield that has struggled to strike the chord between mutual attack and mutual defence- with too many players predominantly doing one or the other. With the array of attacking talent we have in Bendtner, Arshavin, Nasri, Walcott, Eduardo, Vela and the emerging Wilshere- all of whom could justifiably lay claim to one of the positions Rosicky would be likely to fill- available, the chance is there for the manager to rotate and not over burden him. Perhaps I should have had more faith in his long term fitness, Wenger has hardly been shy to consign long term casualties to the scrapheap (many questioned the sale of Lauren). Though I don`t think one has to be the most hardened of cynics to doubt the Arsenal Medical team, whose record in diagnostics leaves a lot to be desired. The fact that Rosicky was included in last season`s "lap of appreciation" after the Stoke match was a hint that Wenger was looking to include him. I`ve no doubt that the 'publish` button of this article is somehow electronically linked to Rosicky`s hamstrings, which will self destruct five seconds after I hit the button, but for now, I`ll just say it`s good to have you back Tommy Gun and we will all benefit greatly from your long term health.LD.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday October 15 2009

Time: 10:24AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Still waiting to hear what the pie tastes like Tim!
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15/10/2009 10:36:00

was thinking exactly what you said in your last sentence LD, jinxed, game over. RIP Tomas
Ozi Gooner
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15/10/2009 11:45:00

Great article - My sentiments entirely. Rosicky is just a real classy player, he's like a footballing Ricky Ponting, touch, brains and style ..... but has the power and graft when it's needed. His touch and passing is superb, but unlike Arshavin and Walcott when they are deployed in from of the left and right backs, he'll get stuck and is a pretty acomplised tackler. I thought after seeing Rosicky play for us in his first season that he could go on to be a world beater, but sadly the injuries screwed him out of that .... hopefully he'll just settle for a couple of shiney pots picked up in a red and white jersey.
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15/10/2009 12:20:00

Great piece Tim, and I too love having the little man in the side. He does make us ' tick ' at times, and commits defenders to come out and challenge him, leaving space in behind for the ' in ' ball. Well done Tomas for enduring the long road back to fitness and I am looking forward to seeing you on saturday, ( if selected ).
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15/10/2009 13:43:00

“(Unless you`re Emmanuel Adebayor, who proved you can actually make a very good living by ambling around like a dog sniffing ***** for three hours a week” / “ponderous team of ditherers” -- LOL!! Brilliant stuff! Great article. I too had given up on Rosicky, expecting never again to see him in the red&white. It's fantastic to be proven wrong, tho I'm on tenterhooks every time an opponent tackles him. Cesc clearly feels confident and liberated with Rosicky back in the team. And as others have said, he contributes so much to AW's demand for consistent collective defending, which other players still have yet to learn. There's a real strength, focus and intelligence about Rosicky on the pitch (and obviously off of it too) that makes him stick out as as superior even to the likes of Arshavin. He's a classic AW player. I also wanted to thank you, LD for this: “Arsene has often spoken about his preference for risk takers on a football pitch, footballers that look to play the decisive pass (which explains why he correctly stood by Alex Hleb for so long),” -- exactly! I was a huge fan of Hleb (still am, actually, as a player) and totally supported AW's persistence with him. On another subject, I watched the France-Austria game last night. Domenech put out a combination A/B team. Our only player on the pitch was Clichy, who got a rare start (and played the whole game). He and Malouda were brilliant on the left, they had a very strong understanding and trust with one another. Fantastic to watch. I couldn't help compare the pair with Clichy & Diaby or Clichy & Arshavin--which have not really worked. Unfortunately, at one point, Clichy went down injured and needed medical attention. I hope he doesn't come back with a knock.
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15/10/2009 14:35:00

Well it figures. Just went over to the official site and Clichy is indeed out with an ankle injury from the Austria game. Fabianski is back and available to play. Eduardo is still out ("too far away" for Birmingham), Almunia is "50/50" (a 6-week chest infection!) while Nasri should be available for the Liverpool game, according to AW. Diaby is also out with a small ankle injury which is yet another training injury since Diaby didn't even PLAY v. Faroe Islands or Austria. Cesc is available.
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15/10/2009 16:06:00

Hey guys, I've been traveling the last 7 days or so... I saw somewhere that Theo was hurt playing for England U-21s, but he's not in the report that jaelle has referenced, what is the latest on him?
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15/10/2009 17:10:00

Good article Tim, and its great to see Rosicky back. He is class, and you can see that he makes an immediate impact to the team's creativity. I dont think Nasri is as good as him creatively, but it will be great to have them all fit at the same time.
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15/10/2009 21:31:00

Almunia's chest infection is strangely reminiscent of the 'injury' which kept Lehmann out of the side for a long period not long after Almunia had taken his No. 1 spot
Ozi Gooner
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15/10/2009 22:14:00

Almunia didn't look worried by a chest infection in that Nerf battle/shooting vid, did he? Some infection. Very descriptive article, LD. "....Get the ball, look up, release it to a well placed team mate, move and look for it again". That sure describes Tommy, in a nut shell. pure music, pure 'Morzat' stuff. While, it is inevitable, I don't look forward to any long term absence for him.
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15/10/2009 22:56:00

I know Le Boss is a fan of the diplomatic injury (like Edu and Wiltord who were essentially placed on gardening leave in the last year of their contracts), but surely he could have come up with a better excuse than a case of the sniffles!? Man flu or what? Surely he could have said a knee or ankle? Maybe he made it deliberately transparent to set a challenge for Almunia? Maybe Almunia will be out for 20 months!
Little Dutch
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16/10/2009 08:12:00

Excellent article. That Adebayor dig was classic! In my opinion, the Cesc-Rosicky-Hleb trifecta was the main reason for the excellent football we played in 07/08, and I feel if we can "recreate" that with Cesc-Rosicky-Arshavin this year, good times are on the way.
Patresc Vieiragas
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16/10/2009 10:08:00

"the Cesc-Rosicky-Hleb trifecta was the main reason for the excellent football we played in 07/08, " -- you forgot Flamini, absolutely essential cog in that machine. It's extraordinary to see what AW is doing with the keeper situation. How does a person with a 6-week chest infection become "50/50" available for the Birmingham game? The way AW handles this kind of thing just makes me chuckle. And what a huge risk to put the team in the hands of a 3rd choice keeper -- but that just may be an indication of how much confidence he's lost in Almunia.
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16/10/2009 15:52:00

jaelle, I think he intentionally left him out. His influence is often overstated. We have proven over the last season than Flamini has not really been missed, but the quality of Hleb and Roiscky certainly has.
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16/10/2009 21:00:00

jaelle, I think he intentionally left him out. His influence is often overstated. We have proven over the last season than Flamini has not really been missed, but the quality of Hleb and Roiscky certainly has.
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16/10/2009 21:00:00

Sorry, Tom, completely disagree. Flamini was a critical part of the best midfield in Europe at that time, imo. I'm not going to dismiss his contribution just because he chose to leave us. Cesc himself said how much we needed him several times and wanted him to stay. You cannot overstate Flamini's essential defensive work in that midfield.
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16/10/2009 21:55:00

Absolutely agree that Famini was just awesome at times, in that squad. Full of running and chipped in with a few goals of his own. On Almunia, I fully expect that he will be a better keeper when he gets his chance, soon. Nothing brings out the best in a keeper than a little competition; and to think that it is from a 3rd choice keeper. A real kick in the backside, hopefully.
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16/10/2009 23:02:00

And whilst he was important, did we really miss him. As a few people have stated, early last season Denilson/Eboue (whoever played the role at that time) did not quite fill his boots, but I would argue that Denilson and Song individually surpassed Flamini as players at some point in the year, and are now easily better options. We missed Hleb ad Rosicky more, and that trio (with Cesc) was the midfield until Thomas got injured. Whilst you would never hear me slag Flamini off because I though he was great, we must remember that he was involved in a team that did well for a period so it is easy to say how fantastic he did, but individually - was he better than Denilson or Song? Who have been part of struggling teams.
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17/10/2009 00:33:00

Flamini played very well in 07/08. But in 08/09, he would have changed precisely ***** all.
Little Dutch
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17/10/2009 01:02:00

I'm curious as to LD's 5-letter expletive. We've got f*cK all at four letters, B*g*er all at six, what at five though? : )
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17/10/2009 04:13:00

We seem to have deviated from Tommy Gun to Flaming gun(FLAMINI). I also believe that without Hleb and Cesc off form period early last season Flaming gun's flames would have been doused. Song and Denilson have worked very hard at difficult times especially when the Arsenal engine was not well oiled and the free flowing football was totally absent. Tommy Gun brings back many options especially with his intelligence.
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17/10/2009 09:20:00

Mmmhh! How time can wipe away agitations of the recent past. The debate/sentiment which still rages about the team is the need for a "very good DM", as "Flamster has not been replaced". This is not to take away from the good work of Song/Denilson (as I am a fan of both) and the increased flair that Tommy gun brings to the team; but you couldn't, possibly, ignore Flamini's contributions in the 07/08 season.
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17/10/2009 13:52:00

Tom14, in answer to your question if he was better than Denilson or Song, yes, yes he was. He and Sagna were consistently our best players in 07/08 and after they both got injured, our season was finished (Sagna got injured away at the Bridge, after which Chelsea instantly scored...). Obviously we missed Rosicky and Hleb last season but I think it's wrong to understate Flamini's importance in the 07/08 season.
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17/10/2009 18:01:00

i am simply glad taht tommy is back. I also think him and eduardo were our greatwst misss in 07.08. and them along with hleb were our greatest miss in 08/09. i hope AW continues his confidence in him and sign him on coem january... that should be a long enough test period.
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17/10/2009 21:29:00

ArsenalFan01 - He is not better than either of them in my opinion. nowhere near.
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17/10/2009 22:56:00

Quite the debate I unintentionally started. Jaelle I should've mentioned him. My intention was not to ignore his contribution. What I was getting at, was that year, the combination play between Cesc, Tom and Hleb was amazing. I recall one particular game up against Reading away that we won 3-1, they were sublime that night. The point I was making is that this year there's the potential for more of that with, especially since the 4-3-3 seems to produce more fluidity in our passing and movement. I should also add that where the 4-4-2 has one holding/defensive player, the 4-3-3 has one definite "defensive" player, Song, and one "semi-defensive" player in Denilson or Diaby (maybe even Samir or Tommy Gun), which is a plus. With that being said, we've still found a way to concede more goals lol! But give me a 3-2 over 1-0 any day of the week!
Patresc Vieiragas
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18/10/2009 17:13:00


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