Last Wednesday, Tomas Rosicky announce his retirement from football. Fittingly, he ended his career where he started at Sparta Prague. Also fittingly, he ended his career due to serious injury disruption.
Despite continuous injury problems, Rosicky managed 246 appearances in North London, including 170 in the league, the most at any of his 3 clubs.
The CAM was generally, by not fault of his own, a peripheral figure at Arsenal, although no one could deny that he tended to be the star attraction in the games in which he featured.
Despite only providing 0.2 goals per game in the Premier League, Rosicky was a vital component of every Arsenal attack. This shortage of numbers is mostly down to his vast number of substitute appearances made, a disappointing 37% of his total league appearances.
Beyond the Stats
His influence upon a game cannot be underestimated, however. Take, for example, the second half of extra time in the FA Cup Final vs Hull. He was introduced alongside Jack Wilshere, and the pair ran the show. The sheer speed of the Czech’s passing, and the intelligence of his runs gave the Hull defence so much to think about, and it was through the link-up of Rosicky and Wilshere that the winner was scored.
Rosicky could dictate the play from all over the pitch, with his remarkable stamina allowing him to cover every blade of grass. In the league, Rosicky would average 2 successful long passes per start. Despite being a wholly attacking player by trade, this shows his willingness to get back into defensive positions, to spray long balls out wide.
The Hardest Worker
Another stat that exemplifies this is his tackling proficiency. Again, Rosicky would average 2 tackles per league start. His success rate was an impressive 75%. For a player who went through so many significant injuries, he had no problem with getting stuck into the opposition.
Rosicky is one of the few Arsenal attackers in recent years who has won more duels with his opponents than lost. In contrast to the likes of Ozil, Ramsey and even Cazorla, Rosicky won 14% more duels than he lost. This demonstrates the excellent fighting spirit that Rosicky provided.
In times of difficulty, when Arsenal need a cool head in attacking areas to keep the ball and invigorate his team, Rosicky did what few others could.
His quality is, of course, also not in question. He averaged around 1.5 key passes per game, which may not always translate into assists, but indicated the vision and control that he possesses.
The point is, his drive, intelligence and footballing ability are what makes him an Arsenal legend. Out of the array of ex-players to have been linked with backroom staff roles at the club, Rosicky would be the most valuable of all to teach young players about the fabric of this club.