Martin Taylor says his only intent was to strip the ball. If this was the case, Eduardo da Silva’s touch was too quick and too deft for the Birmingham man, and the result was disaster. As Taylor went in for the tackle, Eduardo was pushing the ball to the side to maneuver around the charging defender. Taylor’s studs flew past the ball and crashed into Eduardo’s shin. At full speed, viewers may have thought the way Eduardo’s leg bent was a trick of the eye, but slow-motion replay revealed otherwise. His foot and ankle made an angle that has no place in the body’s vocabulary. (Click to see the still, but it’s not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.) The Arsenal striker’s leg was severely broken by the ugly, mistimed tackle. This was just as the young hitman was coming alive in the Premier League. Everyone could see he’d been good, especially with his Champions League performances, but his potential and promise in the domestic league were just starting to bloom into serious goal-scoring prolificacy. Eduardo had a bright future with Arsenal. This was derailed on 23 February 2008.
Recently, Eduardo returned to first team action in FA Cup replay action against Cardiff. Ardent supporters of any club are normally prepared to be patient with a returning player. Especially after a long injury. A player often needs time to get back to match fitness, even when he’s getting the starts. Eduardo scored two goals his first match back. He’d been out of action for nearly a year. The feeling of Arsenal supporters must have been pure elation.
Arsenal went most of this season with Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie carrying the bulk of striking responsabilities. Both have had bouts of injury. Fine strikers, but surely Arsene Wenger must have been dying for more forward options. Especially as Arsenal has struggled with results at various points throughout the season. Now, with Russian Euro star Andrei Arshavin joining the ranks and Eduardo returning, the French manager has four great strikers to choose from. It’s as if he’s made two new signings rather than one.
Unfortunately, almost immediately after returning, Eduardo departed again with a hamstring injury. Wenger said this happened two minutes before he was about to take the striker off. The Croation international is only supposed to miss two weeks, but this is a major frustration for player, manager and side. After spending a year itching to return, two more weeks must seem like another lifetime to Eduardo who only wants to run onto that pitch and score his goals.
Surely he will do so again.
A hamstring injury can often raise alarms as it can be a recurring problem if not tended to properly, and while Arsenal will be hoping for a quick recovery, they will have to be cautious, keeping the player’s long-term health in mind. With Aston Villa in remarkable form, Arsenal are going to have to work hard to secure a fourth place finish in a troublesome season. Eduardo could be an important factor in that goal. Supporters, players and Wenger’s ulcer will all breath a sigh of relief when the kid returns for good. And he’ll probably score a goal or two when he does.