Belfast Telegraph

Defiant Rosicky walks on

Tomas Rosicky insists he was not acting irresponsibly by starting to walk to the halfway line before Sebastian Larsson's brilliant free-kick had struck the back of the Arsenal net in Sunday's 2-1 victory over Sunderland.

Rosicky caused fury among the Arsenal fans by starting his walk to the halfway line with his back to goal for the restart without even turning around to see if the ball had actually gone in. He did the same when Wayne Rooney struck with a free-kick against the Gunners in August and even appeared to laugh as soon as Larsson struck the goal-bound effort.

"That wasn't a laugh - it was a desperate laugh that such a screamer would be scored again. I don't have to turn around," Rosicky said. "When I see his face and he is celebrating, why should I turn around? I have been here six years and anyone who thinks I would laugh at that... for people to take it that way is frankly unbelievable."

Robin van Persie once again saved the Gunners from another disappointing Barclays Premier League result when he lashed home a free-kick to give the Londoners victory after Larsson had equalised the Dutchman's opener.

As brilliant as Van Persie's winner was, Larsson's free-kick was the pick of the goals, with the former Arsenal man curling a wonderfully-arched set-piece over the wall and in to the top right-hand corner of Wojciech Szczesny's goal.

Larsson's free-kick drew high praise from the man who sold him to Birmingham four and a half years ago - Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.

"Larsson is maybe the best player in the league at taking free-kicks," the Frenchman said.

The win lifted the Gunners in to the top half of the table and alleviated some of the pressure on Wenger after the club's woeful start to the season. Four defeats in eight games have left many speculating the club will struggle to qualify for the group stages of the Champions League for the first time since the 1997-98 season.

But despite the team's poor start, and the fact that they lost Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri this summer, Rosicky is convinced that the club can finish in the top four.

"It was a very difficult start for us but the season is very long and I don't feel it is impossible for us [to finish in the top four]," he said. "Every game is very difficult and you have to fight hard. The season is long and there are so many points to play for. Arsenal is a great club that always has to play for the top four. Even if we started badly, it must still be our aim."


From Belfast Telegraph