Come July 2016, Tomas Rosicky will no longer be an Arsenal player. He will be free to take his talents elsewhere, and we will all be the sadder for it. Much like his former teammate Abou Diaby, Tomas Rosicky struggled with injuries while at the Emirates, but where the Frenchman always put across a sense of unfulfilled promise, Rosicky arrived as an established star, and his arc at Arsenal was less "what could have been" than "ugghhhhhhh we are missing out on some probable genius and we could use a bit of that". I love him as I have loved few Arsenal players, due to his loyalty and his spirit in the face of incredible frustration, and also the way he played: always positive, always metal.
I used to spend a lot of time lurking on the 606 boards at the BBC, whiling away the hours at work, refreshing the page to see some new post comparing the best XIs from United and Arsenal in 2005, reading some guy yelling at some other guy about whether or not Arsenal should buy Zlatan or Riquelme, about why we would regret not getting in on the ground floor for Shaun Wright-Phillips. Most of the names coming through at that time would prove unrealistic as the Banter Era dawned, but one name that appeared and then actually came true was Rosicky, the "Little Mozart" of BvB. People saw him as the replacement for either Pires or Bergkamp, depending on their bent, and when Arsenal signed him and then he did this in the summer, it was easy to get stoked:
And then he arrived. Most of his early goal contributions were in the Champions League; his first big domestic impact came when he started against Liverpool at Anfield in the FA Cup and just proceeded to wreck them, scoring two goals in the first half. This goal, in particular, crystallizes Rosicky's game--make an early brilliant run into space (he starts at the top of the frame and makes a good run to cut out most of Liverpool's midfield), always look to drive forward, and then put good technique to work in the goal:
At this time, it was becoming more difficult to not be very excited about Rosicky. Unfortunately, his muscles didn't ever really want to behave, and he only got 24 games in his second year before missing the 2008-09 season entirely because of a hamstring. After that, he was always the guy on the outside, just on the verge of making a breakthrough back into the XI before his legs gave out again. Despite his direct play and tendency to want to move forward all the time, he had long goalless streaks, and when he played, he'd sometimes not find room in Arsenal's possession game.
But the one thing he started to do later in his time, and then kept doing, was score against Tottenham Hotspur. My word, did he like to do this:
Then this, the topper, so early in the match, the sun glinting off his hair as he broke away down the flank (credit to Arsenalist):
All in all, it's hard to gauge the impact that Rosicky had on Arsenal in his time here. He just didn't play quite enough to become seriously influential, yet he provided some of the best memories that an Arsenal player has, and he loved metal. One wonders what he could've done playing 40-50 matches a year, what kind of influence he'd have become, but it's enough that he was here. Thank you, Mr. Rosicky, and best of luck to you (please come to Minnesota United).