Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is often derided for giving Abou Diaby untold opportunities to revive his career, but when you look at the renaissance of another perennially-injured midfielder in Tomas Rosicky his stance suddenly becomes far more understandable.
Rosicky was nothing short of sensational against Brighton & Hove Albion in yesterday's FA Cup fourth round tie, playing with the kind of vision and verve that proves on raw ability alone he's always had the potential to be a standout Premier League star.
Injuries have of course robbed Rosicky of prime years at the very highest level but the 34-year-old is making up for lost time and finishing his Arsenal spell on his terms, thanks to drive, determination and Wenger's refusal to give up on a playmaker who shows the kind of infectious enthusiasm that's impossible not to enjoy.
Indian summer worth shouting about
In a game full of finely-tuned athletes like Cristiano Ronaldo and Alexis Sanchez the man nicknamed 'Little Mozart' is swimming against the tide, largely getting by on technical ability, forward thinking and a deceptive turn of pace in short bursts on those trademark darts towards the final third.
Contained in the Czech international's all-too brittle bones is the sharp mind of a perceptive footballer who every now and then conjures up a moment of magic, one that genuine fans of the game should appreciate while it lasts even if they don't support Arsenal.
Brighton exhibition was something special
On the surface a match-winning contribution in a 3-2 win against lower-league opposition would be easy to dismiss, but as is normally the way with Rosicky the beauty of his work belies a modern game drowning in statistical data and spreadsheets in a bid to gain that all-important competitive edge.
Rosicky is capable of producing meaningful moments on occasion of course, as Arsenal fans will testify. Three fantastic goals against bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur, including a thunderbolt from range at White Hart Lane and a cheeky chip following a 40-yard burst in the FA Cup are testament to that.
Throw in the outrageous drive against Hamburg the start of his Arsenal career in 2006 and that fantastic finishing touch at home to Sunderland last season and its a little saddening to remember the ex-Borussia Dortmund hero missed two full years of his career through injury.
The fun in watching Rosicky goes beyond those goals though, a veteran who plays with the kind of passion which suggests he's acutely aware of how lucky he is to still be on the biggest stage, particularly at a club in Arsenal that he's clearly developed a deep affection for over the last decade.
Not on song every week, but who cares
No-look passes and clever diagonals are too easily dismissed as superfluous, unnecessary and flat-out disrespectful to the opposition. Doing so, as Phil Neville did rather crudely yesterday after the Brighton masterclass, misses the point.
Creative licence should be embraced at all costs, because it encourages the kind of moments that are worth watching in a season full of humdrum.
Rosicky is a unique, flawed genius of a footballer and at times that's a hell of a lot more fun and relatable than watching the clinical robot that is Ronaldo pummel teams into submission every week, whether we care to admit it or not.
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