Saturday’s Manchester City v. Arsenal match was exciting for many reasons: six goals, fast, fluid play, a fun atmosphere, two players playing against their former team, fans throwing all sorts of things at one certain player… All of this made for a great match. While I’ll only mention Adebayor’s celebration just this once, we can all agree it provoked emotion from both sides, which is ultimately why we watch football.
But I saw something—or someone—else during the game that may turn out to be more significant than some cheesy celebration in the fourth game of a very long season: Tomas Rosicky. A sub, yes; but he played fantastic. He had just come off a week of playing with the Czech Republic and his performance in Manchester had to pleasing for Gunners fans. He ran circles around every other player. He made Cesc Fabregas look like he was standing still—a tall order. He passed through, around, and behind defenders—and never got tired. He scored a goal for crying out loud—albeit a little too late. Upon coming into the game, he immediately upped the tempo of the entire match and, I thought, he kept Arsenal in it—and by “in it” I mean they kept getting chances in front of the goalmouth. I never assumed they would come back.
Even though I knew Arsenal was going to lose, I couldn’t help but noticing this gangly little guy in the middle of the pitch running around, his un-Christiano Ronaldo hair flapping around, his no-nonsense feet dazzling my TV screen, and his perfect passes crisp, smooth, fast, and effective. He was all I was watching.
Perhaps Rosicky was not perfect on Saturday—I’m sure he made a few mistakes. Perhaps Rosicky will never fully recover from injury—or even get re-injured. Perhaps he plays well off the bench. Perhaps this was his one goal this season. Perhaps Rosicky cannot play an entire 90 minutes with the pace he has shown thus far. Perhaps I am wrong—but I certainly hope I am not!