By Alex Young
"I love Tomas Rosicky's game," Arsene Wenger told the club’s official website last month. "He is a guy who speeds things up." And Arsenal are in dire need of such a boost at the moment.
Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Swansea City at the Emirates Stadium confirmed the Gunners’ worst start to a season in Wenger’s 16 years in charge, with just 21 points after 15 games leaving the club languishing in 10th place, 15 points behind leaders Manchester United.
Rosicky has been out of action since damaging his tendon during Euro 2012 while on international duty with Czech Republic, and his thrusts through the centre of midfield are an aspect of his play that Arsenal have missed this season.
The loss to Michael Laudrup’s side was the first time Arsenal have not enjoyed the majority of possession at home all season, relinquishing 56 per cent to the Welsh side, with the presence of Cazorla and Jack Wilshere – who is still yet to return to full fitness – unable to cope with the influential pair of Leon Britton and Ki Sung-Yeung.
The return of Rosicky can give Wenger the chance to change tact or simply refresh his, as he bemoaned on Saturday evening, "jaded" squad.
Rosicky made his name and, indeed, prompted the Frenchman to pay a reported £7 million with his performances for Czech Republic during the 2006 World Cup qualification process, with his ability to dictate play from the middle of the pitch for the antithetical forward partnership of Jan Koller and Milan Baros earning him the nickname of ‘The Little Mozart’.
But the Czech conductor appeared to lose influence on the field after a number of number of niggling injuries and a rare tendon injury, and struggled to reach the heights of his first few seasons in north London.
Until 10 months ago, that is. Rosicky re-discovered his baton to produce a man-of-the-match display in Arsenal’s 5-2 win over Tottenham in February and give the Gunners a much-needed boost. That performance was followed by similarly prominent displays against Liverpool, AC Milan and Newcastle from an advanced midfield position as the club overturned an 11-point disadvantage to clinch a third-place finish over their local rivals.
And now the 32-year-old has the chance to lend his experience and influence to a youthful Arsenal side in need of an even bigger boost than last season.
Wenger continued about Rosicky: "When the ball gets to him, he has good acceleration power because he has quick short passes and combinations with other players. He can play in the position of Santi Cazorla, and he can play with Santi Cazorla as well."
The summer acquisition of Cazorla has been a saving grace of Wenger in an otherwise underwhelming campaign, but in the influence of the Spaniard has waned in recent weeks as the over-reliance starts to weigh heavily on the 27-year-old’s shoulders.
Rosicky can also play in Arsenal’s troublesome left-wing position. Lukas Podolski is often employed out wide, despite his insistence that he wants a more central role, as Wenger tries to fit two strikers into a 4-3-3 system.
The introduction of the Czech on the wing could give Arsenal more natural width and drive, with the summer arrival from Koln often drifting inside and leaving the left-back exposed.
It may be too much to ask of Rosicky to conduct an orchestra once again, but ‘The Little Mozart' might still be able to get Arsenal singing from the same hymn sheet.
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