Tag Archives: tomas rosicky

Arsenal’s underachievers to be reunited

September 2007, Arsenal had just completed their first season at the new ground. Thierry Henry had just left for Barcelona. Freddie Ljungberg to West Ham. A year earlier Dennis Bergkamp had retired, Robert Pires was released, Sol Campbell, Lauren and Ashley Cole sold. The invincible’s were no more.

Stan Kroenke was seizing full control, but Arsenal were struggling financially.

Alisher Usmanov had bought out David Dein a month earlier. He came with a promise of Roman Abramovich style spending.

With the transfer window slamming shut, with Arsenal having signed Lukas Fabianski, Eduardo, Bacary Sagna and Lassana Diarra, Arsene Wenger uttered the immortal words:

“We don’t sign superstars, we make them”.

That season, a team was being built around a 20-year-old Cesc Fabregas. Alongside him in midfield was 23 year-old-Frenchman Mathieu Flamini. The squad was filled with players under the age of 25.

Robin van Persie (24), Gael Clichy (22), Sagna (24), Emmanuel Adebayor (23), Nicklas Bendtner (19), Theo Walcott (18), Emmanuel Eboue (24), Alex Song (20), Denilson (19), Eduardo (24), Diarra (22), Philippe Senderos (22) & Abou Diaby (21) represented one of the best young squads in England.

They were supplemented with the experience of William Gallas, Kolo Toure, Gilberto Silva, Alex Hleb and Tomas Rosicky.

The plan was obvious.

Bringing through so many young players at the same time would bread success in the future. It might not be in the first year, but as time went on, they would progress and improve as a team until they became champions – a bit like Manchester United’s class of ’92.

With Henry gone, we saw the greater good of the collective as 16 different goal scorers and togetherness made Arsenal contenders.

A strong start to the season saw Arsenal top the league table by September. It was not until December did the team lose in the league for the first time, away at Middlesbrough.

It was at the turn of the year that things went down hill.

Thrashed by Spurs 5-1 in the League Cup semi-final in January and knocked out of the FA Cup in mid-February 4-0 clearly rattled the emotionally inexperienced side.

7 days after that defeat against Manchester United, Arsenal travelled to Birmingham. A trip that would begin our downfall.

A career-threatening injury to Eduardo against Birmingham City followed up by Birmingham equalising from the penalty spot in the 95th minute – which was never a penalty coincided with the team going on a run of four draws in the Premier League.

Club captain William Gallas sat sulking in the centre circle whilst the penalty was taken, a show of petulance from the senior professional that was supposed to guide his young team mates.

Just 1 win in the next 8 games saw Manchester United soon overtook them Arsenal. Defeat to Chelsea in March moved Arsenal down in third place, where they remained at the end of the season. The spell also saw Arsenal go out of the Champions League at the quarter final stage to Liverpool.

Arsenal finished just 4 points behind eventual winners Manchester United. It was probably the last time we truly challenged for the league title,

Despite the disappointment of finishing the season without a trophy, there was plenty of be excited.

Here was a team of young players challenging for the title before their time. The project was clear and obvious. If we could keep this talented group of youths together, it was only a matter of time before they became champions.

Sadly the 2007/08 season would be this squads high point and Arsenal would not finish the next 7 seasons above 3rd.

First Flamini then Hleb, followed by Adebayor and Toure to the nouveau riche Manchester City. They were followed by Senderos, Gallas and Eduardo.

The dagger was put through the heart of the talented squad in 2011 when Samir Nasri (who signed in 2008) & Clichy joined Manchester City. Cesc went to Barcelona and Eboue to Galatasaray. That season Arsenal would be defeated by Birmingham City in the League Cup.

The departure of Robin van Persie and Alex Song within 3 days during the summer of 2012 left just Tomas Rosicky from what should have been a golden generation of Arsenal players.

And it is the Czech Mozart that sees many of the squad reunited on the 9th June for his testimonial at Prague’s Letna Stadium.

Fabregas and Kieran Gibbs, Flamini and Hleb, and Robin van Persie have already been named in a Czech Legends v Rest of the World match. Petr Cech is set to play for the Czech’s.

More players are still to be announced, and I imagine more will be from that underachieving squad that came together in 2008.

We were so close to create a team of stars. Up against the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea who were buying stars. Rosicky never quite stayed fit enough to be a big enough influence within the squad.

Who knows what we would have achieved had he been able to stay fit?


No time for sentiment: Rosicky, Arteta & Flamini should not play

132I am not one for sentiment.

Giving a player the penalty on his final game. Making a player captain after reaching a games landmark (or years landmark in Theo Walcott’s case). I hate signing birthday cards for people at work who I do not know. And do not dare ask me to donate to a leaving present to someone who has quit to go to a better paid job. Sod em all.

And today we at Arsenal we come to a game where sentiment is high.

After this season, there will be no more Tomas Rosicky at Arsenal. There will be no more Mikel Arteta at Arsenal. There will be no more Mathiue Flamini at Arsenal. There contacts are expiring. They will not be renewed. They will not pass go. They will not collect £200.

There is lots of noise on Twitter. Wishing them all well. Video’s of their best bits, like Arsenal are suddenly a Saturday night talent show. And many, incredibly, calling some of them legends.

Lets get one thing straight first of all. Rosicky, Arteta and Flamini are no legends. They are just players who make up part of our clubs great history.CS6O3HWWUAEf2Jx (1)

And now to the anti-sentimental bit.

None of them should play today

We are currently in 3rd place. Automatic qualification for next years Champions League not yet secured. We have a chance, if results go our way (c’mon Newcastle) to finish 2nd, above Spurs. We have plenty to play for. But what we need to do is our job.

And our job is beating Aston Villa. And to do that we need to put out our best team.

Forget about Rosicky, Arteta and Flamini. They are not.

Arteta has not played since the 30th of January. Flamini the 16th of March. Rosicky has played 19 minutes of football this season.

None of them were considered good enough to play previously, so why play them now when we still have much to play for, just because they are leaving?

I want to win, to beat Aston Villa. And our best chance of that is playing Elneny Ramsey and Ozil, not Arteta Flamini & Rosicky.

Alongside this, we should not be using this game to get Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla & Theo Walcott fit for the Euro’s. It is about Arsenal. Not individuals.

And do you think they really care about us?

Yes, Mikel Arteta did a great job for Arsenal when we were a club in crisis in 2011. And I felt terribly for the man when he captained us to the FA Cup in 2014, only for Thomas Vermaelen to snatch the cup off him at the last minute and lift it in front of the Wembley crowd. But his time has gone. His legs have gone. Thanks for the memories, but it is time to say goodbye.

As for Tomas Rosicky. This is a man who has spent nearly as much time on the treatment table as Abou Diaby. And I see people calling him a legend. A brilliant player, yes, and one who in 2006 when we signed him was, in my opinion, on par with Kaka. But injuries have ruined his career. In 10 Premier League seasons, he has averaged just 17 games a year. This will be the 2nd occasion in his Arsenal career where he has not played a single league game – unless sentiment get’s in the way. Rewarded handsomely to sit out injured. Thanks for the memories, but it is time to say goodbye.

Finally Mathieu Flamini. He loved Arsenal so much that he refused to sign a new contract in 2008, instead joining AC Milan on a free transfer. Cheers pal (thumbs up emoji thumbs up emoji). Why should we show him sentiment, give him a good send off, when he f**ked off at the first chance? Thanks for the memories, but it is time to say goodbye.

All 3 players have done a job for Arsenal at some point or another. They have played over 650 games between them. But today is not the day for sentiment. Today is the day to win a game of football.

Let them join in the walk around the pitch. Let fans clap them then. Let fans sing their names at that point. But to put it simply, for Arsenal to have the best chance of winning today, non of them should play.

Tomas, Mikel, Mathieu, Thanks for the memories, but it is time to say goodbye.



Arsenal set to release £12 million worth of players

At this end of this season, it seems like Arsenal will continue what they started last summer. Culling the ‘dead wood’ – although I hate this term.

Last year saw Abou Diaby, Ryo Miachi & Lukasz Podolski leave the club. According to the Evening Standard, Arsenal are unlikely to renew the contracts of Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini. All of whom’s current deal’s run out at the end of the season. This will free up nearly £12 million from our yearly wage bill.

Whilst many will say they should have gone a long time ago, all 3 will leave with their heads held high knowing that they helped Arsenal through a tough time in the clubs history.

Some will claim Mikel Arteta was one of Arsene Wenger’s most important signings. Whilst this is a tad of an exaggeration, he joined the club during our darkest hours.

Clichy, Fabregas, Eboue & Nasri had just left. Arsenal had only signed two first team players – Gervinho & a young Oxlade-Chamberlain. We had just lost 8-2 to Manchester United. The club was in crisis.

On transfer deadline day, Arsenal spent nearly £30 million bringing in 5 players.

We needed calm, experienced heads. And in Mikel Arteta – and Per Meresacker – that is exactly what we got.

His influence on the club, both on and off the pitch, was there for everyone to see.

On the pitch, he was like a metronome. His ball retention ability was 2nd to none in the league. Whilst he did not have the flair of Nasri, or the creativity of Cesc, he was able to influence the team from deeper, leading many to say it is a pity we did not sign him sooner.

Sacrificing his own attacking instincts, he went back to the defensive role which he played earlier in his career, and he was excellent, if not always ideal.

As captains continued to leave around him, Robin van Persie & Thomas Vermaelen, Arteta became more important off the pitch. He grew into his current role of club captain.

He might not have been a first choice for 18 months now, but a captains job is not just for the 90 minutes on the pitch. Many players have often spoken about Arteta’s role in the dressing room.

Santi Cazorla said “He is always up for whatever the guys need. And that is what a captain has to do: transmitting conviction in order to keep the team together…. Whenever there is a problem he is the one that goes and talks to the manager. He leads this group, so this captaincy is well deserved after his hard work here at Arsenal.”

He is also often found at Hale End with the Arsenal academy taking training sessions, and is the man who makes youngsters welcome when they are invited to train with the first team.

Arteta is a true captain. After the ego captains of Henry, Gallas, Cesc, van Persie & Vermaelen, he was the right choice to get the arm band 18 months ago.

It is just a pity he is not a few years younger, as he would still have an important role to play within the club.

Personally, I would not mind seeing him getting a contract extension. He is clearly influential off the pitch, and he could fill a role that the likes of Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes did at Manchester United. Guiding other players through the early stages of their career and ensuring squad unity.

I would not be surprised to see Mikel Arteta become a very successful manager in the future.

Tomas Rosicky joined Arsenal in 2006. After a brilliant World Cup, where in my opinion he was the 2nd best player on show after Kaka, he had just been made captain of the Czech Republic. I was excited about his signing after having first seen him at Dortmund.

This was a player who had the talent to fill Robert Pires’ boots. To become a World Class player.

Sadly, injuries damaged his career.

A mysterious injury in 2008 saw him make no appearances for the club in 2008/09. However, his contribution to the club is certainly not to be sniffed at.

Memorable goals against Spurs showed his talent. He was just unable to put together a run of games.

I was very surprised (as was he) when Arsenal decided to take up the option of renewing his contract for a further year this summer. It was clear he was surplus to requirements, and wanted out to seek regular football elsewhere in the twilight of his career.

Was his contract only extended to ensure there was a friendly face at the club in our pursuit for Cech? If so, it is a years salary well spent.

He Resigned for 12 months, and has since been injured. It is the tale of his Arsenal career.

Like Rosicky, Mathieu Flamini nearly left in the summer.

Moves to turkey were mooted, and then turned down. Whether this was Flamini wanting to stay and fight for his place in the team, or the club realising that he made Mesut Ozil happy, and Mesut Ozil’s happiness was more important than saving a few million, only the club know.

What is for certain is the two goals he scored against Spurs will write him into Arsenal folk lore.

It is amazing to think that if Flamini does move on this summer, he would have been transferred 4 times during his career. All on a free transfer.

On his return to the club, he was good for the first season. Providing the legs and energy that Arteta was perhaps unable to.

Imagine a Flamini / Arteta hybrid, 10 years younger. It would be the perfect defensive midfielder.

After his first year, it was clear Flamini was no longer good enough. Arsenal needed more than someone who could just ‘run around a little bit’. The defensive midfielder saw the ball more than any other player in a red and white shirt. They needed to be able to pass. And that was Flamini’s weakness. He was not a very good technical footballer.

His demise is mirrored by Francis Coquelin’s rise. Coquelin was as close to a hybrid as we could get. He has the legs and energy of Flamini, but can also play. He showed in a few games around 12 months ago everything Arsenal was missing. Everything that both Flamini and Arteta could not do.

Flamini did a job for 12 months, and then picked up a wage for 24 months. He clearly still has the passion to play, and could still perform at a mid table side in England or France. Arsenal should thank him for his contribution and let him depart.

The money that letting these 3 leavIng free’s up essentially means that Arsenal could go out and add a World Class talent to the squad, an Ozil or Sanchez, without the wage bill increasing. Of course, this relies on us spending, but that’s another blog.

All 3 have played a key part in Arsenal’s history. Whether it is a single game or a season. We should all wish them well.