Rosicky Renaissance And Robson Rage
Considering the many injury problems he’s had with the Gunners over the years, it is pleasing to see the contribution of Tomas Rosicky being recognised by the fans. The Czech matched Arsenal’s third place league finish by coming in third himself in the Arsenal.com Player of the Season polls.
While one may question the finishing order, there is no denying that Little Mozart was arguably the most important person besides Robin van Persie in that crucial seven-game winning run in February and March. His overall influence after January is emphasised by this stat from the Arsenal.com website – Rosicky played over 80% of the available minutes between February and May as opposed to just under 30% between August and January. Renaissance indeed.
However, it would be unreasonable to expect the Czech to have an equal impact next season. At 31-years of age, I doubt TR7 will be able to complete 90 minutes in most matches. To a large extent, I think his below-par performances in the last three games were more down to fatigue than loss of form. He’s picked up a minor back injury while on international duty, which is also worrying although he’s still in the Czech squad for Euro 2012. Looking forward to next season, I think Rosicky will provide good back up in the attacking midfielder role but you feel Arsenal need to strengthen in that department during the summer.
Stewart Robson, Arsenal’s resident pundit and tactics man has voiced his opinion that Arsenal should get rid Theo Walcott if he’s asking for a pay-rise. That in itself would not be big news because I suspect many would agree. Robson then goes on to say that Theo Walcott is not a good footballer – in fact, he opines that Walcott is nothing more than an athlete who puts on football boots.
That is an absurd thing to say and as ridiculous as Chris Waddle’s comments a couple of years ago. Although selective highlights can be deceiving, the compilation of Theo Walcott’s impact this season certainly shows the 23-year old knows how to play football.
While Walcott may not be the most technically gifted player and his decision-making at times can let him down, he routinely terrorizes the best defenders in the world not just with his pace but with his directness as well. And when he gets into more central areas, his finishing can be lethal – as seen by the goals he scored against Chelsea and Sp*rs. In fact, his best performances for Arsenal have come when he’s played in the inside right channel, in a position where a second striker would normally play in a 4-4-2.
Unfortunately, Arsene Wenger has been reluctant to use two strikers up front in the recent past mainly because it would mean conceding possession in midfield. More and more teams are playing with 3 central midfielders and adopting high energy pressing tactics which means being a man light in the centre of the pitch poses a challenge for a possession-based team like Arsenal.
For Walcott, this has meant being played on the right-wing where he is required to link up with the midfield a lot more and contribute defensively as well – two of his weaker areas. While this has helped develop his footballing skills, he seems to drift in and out of games and one has to wonder if the coming season might finally see him being played in a more central role. It’s another headache for Arsene Wenger. As fans, we tend to forget that the manager has to consider how key players are developing and how the team might line-up before selling or buying players.
As far ar Robson goes, it is yet another pronouncement of his disdain for Arsenal, Arsene Wenger and the players. While it is refreshing to hear a contrary opinion and I love his unbiased tactical reviews, his most recent comments are far from being balanced arguments. I don’t know what his contractual arrangement with Arsenal is but surely his future on the Gunners payroll has to be questioned after this outburst.
Back tomorrow with more Arsenal thoughts. Until then.