I remember a time, not so long ago, when Arsenal had just been thumped 8-2 by Manchester United at Old Trafford. Arsenal were so poor that afternoon that I, and I imagine a fair few others, were predicting a disastrous season for the Gooners. Speculation was rife about Arsene Wenger’s future, with Arsenal’s ‘Biggest’ Fan Piers Morgan slating the side on Twitter. One of the main frustrations coming down from the terraces, however, was the commitment of certain players. Andrey Arshavin has been shipped back to Zenit St Petersburg on loan, with the little Russian failing to live up to the standards he set in his first season. To be perfectly honest, it was a disgrace to every Arsenal fan who paid money to watch Arshavin ‘live the dream’, with his starts little more than a dribble, an over hit shot and an inevitable substitution.
One player who has broken away from this ‘uncommitted’ tag, however, is Tomas Rosicky. The Czech Republic international had failed to whet the appetite of fans since his move from Borussia Dortmund in 2006, and that has been the case for the last few seasons. Plagued with injury, Rosicky has had a stop-start career at the Emirates, which has meant Rosicky has never really been classed as a fan favourite. However, things are beginning to change in the career of the man once known as ‘The Little Mozart’ for his creative abilities.
The North London derby is one of the biggest games of the season for Arsenal fans. For years, the Red and White outfit have been the top dogs in the area, constantly bettering their greatest rivals, Tottenham Hotspur. This season though, things have been different. Spurs have produced fast flowing attacking football, with England bound manager Harry Redknapp assembling a fine side. In my opinion, the strongest part of Spurs’ team is the midfield. Luka Modric is a little genious, with Scott Parker adding dynamism and bite to the midfield. Aaron Lennon has so much pace he doesn’t know what to do with it at times, and the Welsh Wizard Gareth Bale can destroy and defence on his day. Three of these four started against Arsenal, with Niko Kranjcar filling in for Lennon.
Looking at the other side of the coin, Arsenal sent out a midfield three of Alex Song, Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky. Song is the anchor of the midfield, with Arteta the pass master and Rosicky playing the role of Dr Dribble. Arsenal excelled in this game, with a Theo Walcott brace completing a thrilling 5-2 comeback. But for me, the performance of Rosicky eclipsed that of anyone else on the field. He seems to have found that little bit of confidence that has been lacking during his tenure at England. Rosicky was dancing past players, showing exquisite technique and frightening acceleration. Desire was shown in abundance as well, with Rosicky powering in front of Brad Friedel to put Arsenal 3-2 up early in the 2nd half. It was this goal that made me see how much Rosicky has improved this season.
True, Arsenal haven’t exactly been ‘world beaters’ this campaign. If you had told the ‘Invincible’ Arsenal side that in less than 10 years the would be battling just to get in the Champions League, they would have laughed you off instantly. Yet Arsenal seem to be back on the rise, and comparing the current crop with the 2003/04 side is simply unfair.
Tomas Rosicky has been instrumental in Arsenal’s recent return to form. Wins against Liverpool, Tottenham and AC Milan have seen Arsenal go leaps and bounds in terms of confidence. With AVB getting the boot at Chelsea, Arsenal now have a real chance of cementing 4th spot in the Premier League, with their rivals for the spot in apparent ‘ruin’. If Wenger can revitalise some of the other Arsenal players in the way Rosicky has sprung back into life, Arsenal may well be on the way to short term success.
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