Until the beginning of this year Tomáš Rosický's time at Arsenal had been a difficult one. Suffering from a series of injuries, the Czech Republic captain had been unable to regularly show the form that his manager and supporters knew he was capable of. Then, just when Arsenal were struggling in the Premier League in January, Rosický hit a rich vein of form which continued with his excellent performance against PUMA team Newcastle last night.
On the day he was rewarded with a new contract by Arsenal, he combined with fellow PUMA stars Bacary Sagna and Mikel Arteta to beat Newcastle in injury time. Throughout the whole game Rosický was brilliant. His passing was intelligent, his movement caused Newcastle problems and he constantly retained the ball in tight areas under extreme pressure from Newcastle's physical midfield.
Although Arsenal probably just deserved the win for the pressure they put on Newcastle in the second half, the Magpies were unlucky to lose. After taking the lead they defended well against a fine Arsenal team and had chances of their own. In many ways, Newcastle's story is similar to Rosicky's.
Following an ownership change, a relegation and several different managers over the last few years, Newcastle have this season fought back to become one of the top teams in England. At the beginning of the season, the aim was to finish in the top ten, and it is credit to all involved with the club that those goals have been raised.
Playing in a 4-4-1-1 formation, they pressed Arsenal in dangerous areas and never gave up the fight. Their midfield is as good as any of the teams above them and the team spirit has been a huge factor in their continued excellence.
Supporters might feel slightly disappointed that they are not still in the Champions League places, yet to qualify for the Europa League would be a massive achievement and put the club two or three years ahead of the schedule set out by the management and board.
To be only a few points behind Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea after 28 games proves that they are there on talent and not luck. With a good squad and a clever transfer strategy, there is no reason they cannot build on this next season. Arsenal may have won last night's battle, but the Magpies are definitely flying again.