Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Thursday October 15 2009
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.
Date:Thursday October 15 2009
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