Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has announced the return to full training of midfield maestro Tomas Rosicky.
The 32-year-old Czech has yet to feature at all for the Gunners so far this season after suffering a long spell on the sidelines since rupturing his Achilles tendon in his national side’s 2-1 victory over Greece in this summer’s European championships.
Rosicky has divided opinion over the years in North London – upon his arrival in 2006, he was one of the most technically gifted, nimble, and audacious players of his generation. But a number of long-term injuries and a subsequent lack of fitness, form, sharpness, and confidence saw him become more of a squad utility player.
He started well in his first two seasons in the Premier League, making 61 appearances between 2006 and 2008 but his Arsenal career was derailed by a hamstring injury, which saw him sit the entire 2008/09 season out.
His return in May of 2009, after 18 months of absence saw him start on the long road to regaining his form but the journey there was blocked by another injury setback, this time straining his hamstring, sidelining him for a further six weeks.
He was a peripheral figure in the 2010/11 season and still looked like a player who had spent a long time out of the game. But last season, with the departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri and the long-term injury to Jack Wilshere, he really came back to impress the Gunners faithful, many of whom had written him off long ago.
In fact, such was the standard of his performances last season, Arsenal won 22 games with him on the field – he became one of their most reliable midfielders, linking the play between midfield and attack.
He is technically very gifted and his first-touch is impeccable. His passing is accurate, intelligent, and creative and, when fully fit, he ads quality and ambition in possession. His long-range shooting was what initially caught the eye of fans and commentators alike, all those years ago when he inspired Borussia Dortmund to win the Bundesliga title in 2002.
His return to the squad will add depth undoubtedly, especially in the absence of Abou Diaby – he also brings more experience to the side both on the pitch and in the dressing rom.
He is self-assured in possession, economical with the ball, and rarely wasteful – he can add calmness to the team who often lack that resolve under pressure and he’ll offer his manager the chance to rotate his squad.
Santi Cazorla has played in all 13 of Arsenal Premier League fixtures this season, along with all 5 of their Champion’s League games.
Rosicky offers Wenger as close to a genuine alternative to the Spaniard as Arsenal have within their ranks and he’ll likely start bringing the Czech on in the latter stages of games to relieve the Spaniard and to develop the form and fitness that Rosicky will need to build up.
A fit Cazorla is the key to making the top four this season for Arsenal – without him, they’d be in serious trouble and because the role he plays he picks up knocks and rides some pretty bad challenges so the need for him to get a rest from time to time will be crucial to Arsenal’s season. In that sense, Rosicky’s imminent return is one of the most important turnin-points of this year for them.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the bench for their clash with Swansea next weekend.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald