Hot-shot Rosicky chuffed to be drawing comparisons with Pires

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The Independent Football

The influence that Arsène Wenger expects Tomas Rosicky to exert over Arsenal is clear. "We've lost Robert Pires," the manager said. "We need someone who can score goals like that." But not even "Le Bob" scored many like the one struck by Rosicky at the AOL Arena to beat Hamburg in Arsenal's opening Champions' League fixture on Wednesday evening.

Sweetly hammered in from 25 yards with his right foot, after coming in from the left flank, it was reminiscent of one Rosicky hit for the Czech Republic during the World Cup defeat of United States - although he insisted his first goal for Arsenal was even better. "And I enjoyed this one more," he said.

If that statement was intended to endear him to his new club's supporters then Rosicky, who joined for £8m just before the World Cup from Borussia Dortmund, was also comfortable with the Pires comparison. "Robert Pires was a player that I have always liked," he said. "When I watched Arsenal, I always liked watching him because he is a very good player, similar to David Beckham."

Replacing Pires has its benefits. "On the one side, I wanted to play with him," Rosicky said. "But I also knew that if he stayed, then Arsenal probably wouldn't have bought me."

Pires scored 62 times for Arsenal in 189 appearances, vital contributions which are hard to replace from midfield. "I know Pires scored a lot of goals and I will try to do my best," Rosicky said. "But I think he is more prolific than I am."

His own record is more modest - even if many of his goals are spectacular efforts from distance. "For my country, I have scored quite a few," Rosicky said (he has 17 goals in 59 appearances). "But at Dortmund I wasn't so successful and averaged five goals a season so I know from my position I have to score more."

After his five years in the Bundesliga Rosicky was back in familiar surroundings in midweek and admitted that the transition to the Premiership may take some time.

"It's difficult but I've only played two games in the league," the 25-year-old said. "And it's very quick, much tougher than in Germany. England is more physical." Not that he is concerned. "I was prepared for that," he said. "I'm not scared if someone wants to kick me. I had a very hard time in Germany at the start of my career because teams would play with a man-marker on me and it was difficult so it was good preparation for England."

The physical challenge is likely to step up with Sunday's encounter against Manchester United. "I remember the game at Old Trafford with what happened with Ruud van Nistelrooy," Rosicky said of the meeting three years ago when the Dutch striker was mobbed by Arsenal defenders, because of his antics, after missing a late penalty.

"Everyone remembers that one," Rosicky added. "I know it will be tough. I'm not as strong as some but I said when I joined Arsenal that you will never see me jump when the tackles come in."