The Return of ‘Little Mozart’

There had been rumours of Tomas Rosicky returning to Germany but I feel they were only ever rumours, although I have little doubt Wolfsburg were interested. The reason why I never paid much heed was because I was convinced that Wenger still saw Rosicky as very much integral to our squad and his plans. Rosicky himself was interviewed in his homeland before pre-season training on July 1st

“I don’t want to go somewhere where I would have it easier and where even the ordinary life would be easier for me. I want to achieve something with Arsenal.

“On Monday, I am starting pre-season with Arsenal. Before vacation I was speaking with coach Wenger and he told me he counted on my services and that there was no intention of selling me.”

These few words tell us so much about the man. Wanting to stay and fight for his place at a top club in a top league rather than move for an easier life. The fact that he wants to achieve something with Arsenal speaks volumes for Rosicky. He came to win trophies with this great club that stuck by him through 18 months of injury hell in 2008 and 2009. Unlike others Rosicky wanted to stay loyal to the club that gave him his chance in the EPL when they signed him from Dortmund in 2006. He short he feels he has unfinished business.

I may be reading too much into this but I also see the Carling Cup Final in February as a key turning point in the fortunes of Rosicky and Samir Nasri. We should remember that whilst Tomas is essentially an attacking central midfielder before his long-term lay off he has been playing wide in a 4,4,2. When he returned Wenger had switched to 4,2,3,1 and Fabregas was playing centrally and Nasri and Walcott either side. The form of Nasri and Fabregas obviously made it difficult for Rosicky to win a regular staring berth back but the team selection for me against Birmingham told us so much about how Wenger saw the future. The press and many Gooners assumed that with Fabregas injured that Nasri would be given his role to pull the strings behind van Persie. However Wenger had other plans. He gave the creative central role to Tomas and to add insult to injury moved Nasri to the right and brought Arshavin in to his usual left wing role. Now this is a conspiracy theory of course but Nasri barely played another decent game from February to May and I feel it was because he knew despite what the hacks thought that Wenger’s vision for Nasri was not to give him a central playmaker role even if Fabregas left. It is my belief that Le Boss saw Nasri as a dribbler and not the creative passer needed to play the demanding role behind the sole striker.

Apologies for digressing but I am of the opinion that Wenger knew that in Rosicky he has a player who had the ability to play any of the midfield positions when fully fit. We saw against Udinese how he play as a tough tackling terrier in one of the two holding roles with Song or Arteta, we know he can play wide, although his pace is not what it was, but certainly as we have seen in recent weeks he can slot seamlessly into the creative advanced role. Whilst you know my preference for 4,4,2 if we are to persevere with the current formation and Wenger seems stubborn as ever on this, we need the advance player to be able to play the unexpected pass to open up an opposition defence. Moreover we need the player with that responsibility to be able to make decisions swiftly and be more incisive. I feel Wenger may have seen Arteta as that player but due to Wilshire’s absence he has slotted in superbly alongside Song and the huge responsibility for filling the shoes of Fabregas was left to a young Aaron Ramsey in his first season back from horrific injury.

I like Ramsey and feel he has a big future which I hope is in the red and white but in truth he is not proving up to the task of playing the role I have  described above at present. He has started too many games for one so young returning to top flight and in a role that I so pivotal to the way Wenger wants us to play. He does not move the ball swiftly enough, wants too many touches and in short is not creating enough assists in a role and formation that only works when the player in that position is doing just that. In 21 starts in the advanced role Ramsey this season has only 4 assists and in 22 starts. In the same role last season Fabregas had 11. This may sound unfair on Ramsey but it is not meant to. I just feel he has too much pressure and too many games too early for a role that requires maturity of thought if not in years.

This brings us conveniently back to Tomas. Rosicky was given the advanced role yesterday and whilst RVP, Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain will grab the headlines, it was the fluidity and the pace of our football that made the formation that had become pedestrian so effective against Blackburn. For me ‘Little Mozart’s’ continual motion, fast and accurate passing and decision making was very much one of the key differences. When the pace of Theo and Ox is being found early and in space there is no limit to what we can achieve, so for the time being I would like to see Rosicky keep his position playing ahead of Song and Arteta and behind RVP. Ramsey can of course be very effective coming on later in games.

Tomas is only 31 and whilst circumstances have limited his impact since his brilliant first 2 seasons, those doubting his potential impact should perhaps have a look at his international career spanning 12 years since his debut for the Czech Republic in 2000. In doing some research for this piece I was astounded how Rosicky’s contribution for his country, which he has for many years has captained, compared with the very best in Europe. In 25 matches for the Czech’s since his injury break Tomas has 7 goals and 4 assists, which considering he has not been playing week in week out for Arsenal is astonishing. This includes 2 assist in the play-off against Montenegro securing the Czech Republic’s place at Euro 2012.

In 82 caps for his country Rosicky has 20 goals, a 24.4% ratio, which compares better than favourably with the very top attacking midfielders of his generation.

Just to illustrate the point:

Ballack – 42 in 98 – 42.85%             Sneijder – 23 in 77 – 32.8%

Schweinsteiger – 23 in 90 – 25.5%    Lampard – 23 in 90 – 25.5%

Rosicky – 20 in 82 – 24.4%               Gerrard – 19 in 89 – 21.3%

Ljungberg – 14 in 73 – 18.66%         Iniesta – 15 in 87 – 15.87%

Modric – 8 in 52 – 15.4%                  Pirlo – 9 in 81 – 11.11%

Nasri – 3 in 27 – 11.11%                  Xavi – 10 in 107 – 9.34%         Van der Vaart – 7 in 93 – 7.5%    

I think I have thrown in most of the attacking midfielders from the top nations in Europe and I have not omitted anyone obvious to make my point. In reality Tomas is a top international attacking midfielder and until such time as Wenger choses to invest, or until Jack Wilshere returns, I feel that ‘Little Mozart’ deserves a run in our team while Ramsey takes a breather. In one of the programmes earlier this year Rosicky was interviewed and asked about his form. He seemed to be quite happy with his overall contribution, but he himself pointed out that he was disappointed with his goal return for the Gunners in recent seasons. Given the above statistics it is obvious that goals are in his locker and we have seen this side of his game in the past. He scored 12 times in his first season and a half between 2006 and early 2008 when his initial injury side lined him. I hope that if he is given a run of matches just ahead of Song and Arteta his creativity, energy, speed of thought and incisive passing will reap huge benefits for the team and the goals will come.

A few more symphonies to be composed by our Little Mozart yet!

Until next time, thanks for reading 

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