Mozart has heart: understanding Arsenal player Tomas Rosicky

Editor’s Note: This is a special piece submitted by a guest writer (Michael Schreiber) that GOA is proud to post.

This piece analyzes the role and importance of Tomas Rosicky.  The Czech international has had an injury-plagued five years at Arsenal, but he seems fit and ready to prove his worth in 2010-2011.  This piece discusses 1) his journey to the Emirates, 2) his role at Emirates, and 3) his value to the club.

Here he is in BD colors.

From Prague to Pires
Rosicky has an interesting background.  “Little Mozart,” as he was affectionately named by the faithful fans of Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund, began his football career close to home as the midfield dynamo for Sparta Prague.  He was soon picked up by Dortmund in 2001 for a club record fee of €14.5m.  There he played 126 matches over five years and got on the score sheet 19 times.  This statistic is important because it demonstrates two issues with Rosicky.  First, he is not as fragile as he first appeared after his 18 month lay-off upon arriving at Arsenal.  With both Sparta and Dortmund, he played consistent first-team football.  Second, Rosicky is a provider and a scorer.  Gooners are spoiled under Wenger’s stewardship as we have seen the development of several attacking midfielders who can spot a forward pass from 30 meters out, but can also fire shots on target from the same distance.  Rosicky, fits the mold.

Rosicky’s pre-Arsenal success holds true for both club and country as Rosicky lead CR to qualification for Euro 2008, justifying his captaincy.    It’s no surprise that both his international and club performances caught Wenger’s eye and the manager captured him in 2006, giving him legendary Pires’ number 7.

Star for his country

Mozart meets the Orchestra?

Any analysis of Rosicky’s role at Arsenal necessarily involves a discussion of the other attacking midfield options available to Arsenal in the 2010-2011 year.  A large part of what impressed Wenger was his passing and movement, which fits so neatly into an Arsenal attack.  However, Rosicky was unable to hold down a regular position due to persistent injuries.  His absence in part led to the £12.5m signing of Samir Nasri in 2008 and the increased reliance on the midfield vision of Cesc Fabregas.  With these two younger promising starlets, it is no wonder why Rosicky was often ignored in the media after his arrival at Arsenal.  But, Wenger never forgot about Rosicky.  Maybe one of Wenger’s best qualities as a manager is that he is patient with injuries, e.g. Eduardo (leg-break), Ramsey (leg-break), Nasri (leg-break), Bendtner (groin),Van Persie (ankle), and Fabregas (leg-fracture).  Throughout a player’s injury, Wenger does not shop for an exact replacement, albeit he will dip into the transfer market to buy reinforcements.  Of course, Wenger’s compassion might be fueled by his desire to develop his academy and blood the illustrious young guns that anxiously wait for their shot.  However, regardless of the justification, Wenger kept the faith in Rosicky and we see a player who impresses (when he gets the chance).

Another key to understanding Rosicky’s role is to understand that he is a starter, rather than a super-sub.  He needs time during the initial and middle periods of play to develop one-touch pass movements that define Arsenal’s play out of the back philosophy.  Conversely, a super-sub shows qualities such as pace and an eye for goal that can change the tone of the match in the final 15 minutes, e.g. Walcott.  Rosicky, like many of our attacking mids, moves with the ball up the pitch, spreads the ball out wide, and acts as the fulcrum of the 10-15 pass offense.  This only works with time and patience.  Certainly, he will race up the field on a counter, play winger if he’s ordered to, or drop a deep pass, but he excels when given time to imprint his sense of space and placement in the attacking half of the pitch.

Watch me score!

It should be crystal clear why Rosicky, with the qualities discussed above, has yet to shine in armory red: Nasri and Fabregas.  Nasri and Fabregas are two of the best attacking midfielders in the EPL if not in all of European football.  Passing, creativity, dribbling, and shooting accuracy are just four of the qualities that define these two players.  Ramsey, Wilshere, and Diaby have also shown they can shine in this role.  Meanwhile, Rosicky has had to endure long-term injuries and the prolonged period of rebuilding pace and confidence that comes along with such absences.  Therefore, Rosicky must either provide a new dimension to make his case (hard to do at 29) or benefit from his teammates misfortune.  For better or worse, Rosicky has had the opportunity this season to prove his worth because of Fabregas and Nasri’s respective injuries.  As a result, he is getting his minutes in and showing that he too can lead a team.  Assuming that he maintains match fitness, Rosicky should get more minutes, find his eye for goal, and finally become a regular starting fixture.

Dollars and Sense

Rosicky’s future at Arsenal depends as much on others’ injuries and the inevitable transfer of Fabregas as it does on his own performance.  My prediction is that Rosicky will prove to be an integral part of the mid-field rotation this season.  Next season, it is my hope that he will develop a lasting partnership with Nasri upon Fabregas’ departure.  This result will prove that Rosicky’s acquisition will be fully justified if this partnership is accompanied by silverware.  I hope that it will be because Rosicky is a good player and a good guy.  His teammates respect him and players like Ramsey and even Nasri can learn from his calmness on the ball and leadership qualities.  This is a difficult position for any footballer, but I hope Rosicky can wait it out.

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