At 34 years of age, Tomas Rosicky is the oldest player in our squad and, on paper, the cracks should be beginning to show.
However, if Sunday’s performance and that beaut of a goal is anything to go by, they won’t be appearing any time soon.
Unlucky when it comes to injuries, the Czech international has sustained his fair share over his eight (and a half) seasons with us, the most recent of which being a muscular problem while away on international duty last October.
However, despite being well acquainted with the physio room and, as other midfielders found their form, the bench, Rosicky has never seemed more spritely, skilful and downright exciting to watch.
Here are five of our Little Mozart’s best goals in an Arsenal shirt.
Brighton v Arsenal – 2-3 (third goal)
Still fresh on everyone’s minds will surely be that wonder-strike last weekend against Brighton in the FA Cup.
After treating the seagulls to a midfield master class, packed full of exquisite close control, dribbling and dummies, our midfield maestro volleyed home a perfectly weighted pass from Olivier Giroud in the 58th minute.
However, it wasn’t just the goal itself which had all our mouths watering somewhat creepily. It was the play that built up to it.
Rosicky rudely snatched the ball a few yards outside of the area and brazenly dribbled it around 75 Brighton players (I counted) before passing it to Giroud to his left, only to be gifted it back a moment later to score.
A beautifully executed goal from start to finish, which also saw us through safely to the next round of the FA Cup.
Arsenal v Spurs – 5-2 (third goal)
Rosicky loves a goal against Spurs (who doesn’t?), but this one will always feel a little bit special to me.
After going 2-0 down to our North London rivals, it was fair to say that whatever our game plan was had gone properly t*ts up. Unless our gameplan was abject humiliation at the hands of our arch nemesis, of course.
However, thanks to a header from Bacary Sagna and an equalizer by a slightly-less-grey Robin van Persie, we were back on level terms.
I remember Rosicky’s goal – the one to put us ahead for the first time that game – like it was yesterday. I remember seeing his marauding run, the type he’s famous for, from midfield. By the time he reached the box and passed the ball out wide to Sagna, I was already on my feet. A split second later, the ball was neatly passed back and was expertly poked into the back of the net by the midfielder.
At this point, I think it’s appropriate to give an honourable mention to Rosicky’s goal against Spurs last season at White Hart Lane. In what was probably one of my nerviest games of recent history, Rosicky picked up the ball on the halfway line, dribbled up the right wing, and played a quick one-two with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the box before smashing the ball across goal into the top left corner with his right trusted foot.
The goal went on to win us the match.
Arsenal v Bolton – 4-2 (third goal)
Think back to a simpler time.
A time when we felt fondness for Cesc Fabregas. A time when we thought RvP could go on to become an Arsenal legend. A time when Arsene could apparently zip up his coat.
The year is 2010 and Arsenal are 2-0 down to Bolton within 27 minutes. Fortunately, just before halftime a fresh-faced 30-year-old Rosicky inspires an impressive comeback.
Eduardo da Silva (Arsenal’s number nine) picks the ball up on the edge of the final third, effortlessly skips past a couple of baffled Bolton players and flicks the ball over to his right where Rosicky is making a run in acres of space. He proceeds to run into the box and smash the ball expertly with his right foot into the right side of the net.
Hamburg v. Arsenal – 0-2 (second goal)
Team goals can be tantalising; casually tapping it to players who are running circles around the opposition, drawing them out and frustrating them. Arsenal are all about team goals. The perfect team goal. To the point where some times we look as if we’re playing hot potato with the ball and no one’s actually willing to take a shot (grr).
This was not one of those times.
Rosicky gets the ball about a mile outside the area and just thumps it into the top left corner with his right foot. The ball rattles the net and puts the Champion’s League fixture firmly in our hands.
Arsenal v Portsmouth – 3-1 (second goal)
Down to 10 men, Arsenal strutted to a solid 3-1 win against the now League Two team. The impressive part, however, was Rosicky’s 59th minute stunner, which saw some excellent hold-up play from a practically prepubescent Theo Walcott who got the assist.
Walcott gets the ball from a perfect long pass delivered by the enigma that is Alexander Hleb, he then holds the ball up in the area before slotting to Rosicky, who, in a move not all that dissimilar to his Spurs goal, magically flicks it into the net across his body with his right foot.
These are truly the type of goals which take your breath away and watching them back reminds me of how versatile our Little Mozart is.
They’re the type which get you out of your seat, throwing your hands in the air and, if you’re anything like me, probably shedding a little tear.
His skill, finesse and sharpness despite his injury woes fills me with so much respect for him, that sometimes I feel as if I love him more than people I know in real life.
That, and the fact he apparently annoys all the other players with his playing of heavy metal in the changing room…
Rock on, Tomas Rosicky. Rock on.