Tomas Rosicky. Little Mozart. The guy with the long hair. You know him, you love him - now let's assess his 2012-13 season in a relatively unscientific way. Including one GIF.
Tomas Rosicky didn't play in November, December, or much of January, when Arsenal struggled. He started against Bayern away and played regularly through the dominant run-in, when Arsenal swept aside nearly everything in their path. Rosicky is a walking, talking, breathing illustration of the fact that correlation does not equal causation. He can't really stay healthy, and while that's a problem, he's definitely a guy I want to see stick around - in short bursts he can be extremely effective, he just can't really be counted on to do that over a 38 game league season (much less the added congestion of cup ties as well).
Rosicky is the guy people talk about when they say they want "bench depth", and as such I hope he's here next season and able to contribute, even if just in 4-5 game stretches.
Grade: B for Bench Depth All-Star
Tomáš Rosicky's absence from August to December, not starting a proper game before the end of January and meagre 10 league appearances, purely as themselves, paint a sad picture. He featured in only one game more than Abou Diaby this year, and similar to the Frenchman, the good form Arsenal enjoyed in his presence (and the bad form suffered without him) is no coincidence. Both are inconsistent, injury-riddled, end-product-lacking but ultimately very talented and useful players when fit.
But this isn't about Diaby, it's about Rosicky. While the well-documented problems with Jack Wilshere persisted and grew as the season progressed, Rosicky's return to fitness helped us form a balance in midfield that had been lacking the whole season until this point. He was a very significant part of the post-Spurs revival. His season didn't provide anything revelatory, but only reaffirmed that he's an extremely technically gifted and intelligent player but can't be relied on for a full season. Still, he's well worth keeping around.
Grade C: spent half the year out and didn't set the world on fire on return, despite his importance.
I know that Tomas Rosicky doesn't play as much as a player probably should, but then, when he does, I generally love everything happening around me. He usually ends up in the right places, makes good runs, and although I don't like his outside of the foot passes that much, he just is one of those players who knows where to pop up. Two goals against West Brom is just the tip of the iceberg from his past half-year, as after he returned, his efforts helped stabilize Arsenal a good deal.
Somehow my feelings about his health don't fill me with the same sadness that Diaby's issues do, and I think it's because Rosicky likes heavy metal. I'm not exactly sure that makes sense. But, there it is.
Grade: C, for only being available half the time.
Tomas Rosicky is one of Arsenal's better midfielders, and perhaps the only one who comes closest to replicating the type of midfield movement Cesc Fabregas had. Like Fabregas, Rosicky presses from the front and is a very good tackler; like Fabregas, Rosicky likes to drop deep in midfield, and makes runs beyond the striker. Unlike Fabregas, Rosicky isn't a typical goal-scorer and doesn't provide as many assists. That doesn't mean Tomas Rosicky isn't an important player; he is, and like last season, he was crucial to the end of season run. Yet, he missed the first half of the season injured, which is a shame, because he worked extremely well with Santi Cazorla. He's basically not a starting piece at this point because of the injury problems, but I like the idea of a fit, fresh Rosicky supplementing Cazorla or whoever else we have at #10.
When he played, Tomas Rosicky was one of the main key cogs in making sure our center and wide forwards were fed the ball and our attack became a bit more threatening when he was the key orchestrator and distributor of passes, which is something we've come to expect when he's on the pitch. But therein lies the problem. While he had a great season in the matches he played, his career's been blighted with various sorts of ailments, strains, pulls and tears and last season was no exception.
The former Dortmund midfielder arrived with the hope and promise (one cannot forget the goal he scored versus the US in the '06 World Cup), and while he's performed admirably in an Arsenal shirt, he's simply not a first-choice option for the club because of his injury proneness. As Michael depressingly pointed out, he appeared in one more match than Abou Diaby, which holy mother of God is that hard to do. Had he replicated his 2012/13 performances over a vastly larger number of matches played than what he produced last season, I believe we would be talking about him in Cazorla-like fashion. Alas, we're stuck to reviewing a small sample size, albeit a good one.
As an Arsenal fan, the most painful thing that I read every year has nothing to do with transfers, stadium pricing or even the sale of any "star" player. It is always the press conference transcripts or injury reports that list Rosicky as being out for "two weeks". I've always believed that he's the most essential part of our team because of the fact that he is more direct than any other player that we have. Once he gets the ball, he looks forward and even when the pass fails, he's one of the few that will attempt through passes. While Cazorla is just as skilled and important, he tends to disappear or gets "roughed" out of games, where Tomas is more used to the physical nature of the English game.
It's true that he's aging and is often injured (which I can't really blame him for, Arsenal's not really the best with them), but I still believe that he's a crucial part of the team. He's proven that in our run to fourth this year and our run to third last year - he just makes defences uncomfortable, something that few of our other players do. I also don't believe that his age will be an issue; after his return this year, his explosiveness was the same. The only thing I fear is more injuries but overall, he's so much more important to the team than he's given credit for.
Lather, rinse, repeat. A relevant cliche for two reasons: first, Tomas Rosicky's long, lustrous hair; second, because there was a striking similarity between Rosicky's season last year and this one. Both years he missed a ton of time early in the year due to various injuries. Both years he returned to the first team around the turn of the year. And both years he was a major part of an Arsenal resurgence in the year's second half.
I'm not sure that I think Rosicky is reliable enough, as he ages, to do this every year. As much as I like him (which is a lot), I think he may drift back into more of a support role in the next few years, rather than the relatively crucial one he's had the past two springs. But as long as we can keep getting fiery late season performances from him, I will welcome them. His runs with the ball and creativity in passing are things we missed a lot until Santi Cazorla came on board, and they're still rare in the team. We could use more players like him.