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An Accident Waiting To Happen

An Accident Waiting To Happen

I'm not entirely sure if I'll post a match report, I may attempt one later. But after yesterday's match I think everybody's thoughts are firmly in one place. I can't ever recall seeing something happen on a football pitch that has left me feeling so utterly deflated as Eduardo's misfortune. The dire nature of the injury was not graphically apprent from the Railway End. I was a good seventy yards away, indeed it was not immediately apparent that Taylor's feet were so high. In truth, it looked fairly innocuous peering through the throng of bodies. But Cesc Fabregas' reaction immediately told me something was gravely wrong. When I saw him implore the medical staff to hurry, my initial reaction was 'that has to be a broken leg.' However, once the medical staff arrived on the scene,I saw Fabregas' hold his face and look away. The Arsenal players did not surround the perpetrator, instead expressing concern for their stricken team mate. One by one they turned away in horror. I watched Hleb walk to the half way line with his face buried in his hands. Adebayor moved to the Birmingham six yard line and fell to his knees.

Anybody who has watched a serious accident, possibly a traffic incident, or who has watched severe pain inflicted on another person will be aware of the all over body shock that permeates you. I won't go into personal experience, but an example of a friend of mine who watched a man beaten half to death by three men outside a bar in Bolivia. The experience instantly drained the considerable amount of alcohol he had consumed and sobered him instantly, such was the shock. Eduardo's injury yesterday would have provokeda similar kind of response. As Eduardo stayed down for minutes at a time, phones around me begin to buzz with activity. Text messages flooded to my own phone. The underlying message was that Sky Sports were refusing to show replays of the incident as the footage might prove too upsetting. The name on everybody's lips was David Busst. This wasn't good. The mood began to drain as the shock was absorbed. I think Imust have stood with my hand over my mouth for a good two minutes, an entirely involuntary action. Once it had all sunk in, we began to talk about the prospect of Eduardo ever playing again. He still had not even been carried off the pitch yet.

I don't blame the players for not looking up toit after that. It isn't just the shock of seeing a friend prostate with an injury that severe, but the fear that it could so easily happen to you as the tackles snap in. Having had time to reflect, I cannot help but pick upon some of Wenger's post match comments (some of which he has now retracted). I sent the following sentiment to Paul in a text message, and Wenger's interview uncannily reflected my won. I reflected on John Carew's challenge on Alex Hleb,Mark Noble'schallenge on Alex Hleb, Dirk Kuyt's lunge at Philip Neville, Jon Obi Mikel's lunge on Neville in the Carling Cup, Stephen Hunt's disgusting abberation against Man City (I think). This sort of thing has been waiting to happen for a long time. Arsenal have undoubtedly been the most vocal in their opposition to crude challenging. With the fast, technical game we play,often we have been targetted by the bully boys. Infuriatingly, when we have had the temerity to complain, we have been told by opposing managers and pundits alike to stop whingeing and that Arsenal 'don't like it up em.' Hansen and the like have snorted dersively as Tugay rakes his studs down Fabregas' shins. As Neville kicks Reyes up into the air. Alan Shearer's last ever game against Arsenal saw him commit four of the most sickening fouls I've ever seen. (How Senderos' eye stayed in its socket I'll never know). Yet Shearer was lauded as a hero for stuffing it upthose uppity Frenchies.

Manuel Almunia was nearly knocked out in a collision with Jason Roberts (then of Wigan) in a Carling Cup semi final. Paul Jewell's dry reaction to Wenger's objection afterwards, 'you breathe on Arsenal and they moan.' Mark Noble's assault on Hleb in September was dismissed by Match of the Day as 'yellow card at the most, we don't want to remove the passion from our game.' Well ladies and gentlemen, congratulate yourselves. You got exactly what you were asking for yesterday afternoon. Martin Taylor, with the media discourse of 'get into Arsenal, they don't like that' ringing in his ears went to challenge the fleet footed Eduardo, studs showing with liberal abandon and over the top of the ball. Now a young man's career hangs in the balance. Don't get me wrong, I don't for one second think Taylor achieved his objective in hospitalizing Eduardo. But this is exactly the type of recklessness we are witnessing week in week out, violence posturing as 'passion' and this was always likely. But apparently protesting about it makes you a whinger, one of those fancy dan pansies who wouldn't have lasted a second in the Seventies hayday of hardmen.

Some morbid curiosity made me watch the tackle again on YouTube when I got home.I really wish I hadn't, it's just so utterly depressing. I am gutted for the guy. A man who worked so hard to go from Brazil to Croatia, and earned his shot at the big time. He belongs in the big time too. Never once opening his mouth to complain when he wasn't in the side early in the season. He again kept his head down, worked hard and earned his shot. He took it too, scoring a myriad of crucial goals (even in the rainy, windy confines of Goodison Park in December) and he was starting to really show how good a player he is. It's funny, because as the players warmed up yesterday, I reflected very briefly at how much of a fixture he has become of late, his inclusion in the starting line up now passes without mention. It was a fleeting thought which concluded before it began really. But it stands t reason that now I feel the need to elaborate and expand on it. So get well soon Eddie, I only hope your entirely unjust misfortune makes a few others think before they fly into the next wing heeled fancy dan with their studs showing. As for the 'it's not violence, it's British' brigade. I hope you feel as though you got your money's worth.LD.

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Writer:Tim Stillman
Date:Sunday February 24 2008
Time: 11:51AM


All that will come out of this is a ban for Gallas for cosing a severve injury to an advertising board, Wenger for speaking out of turn when still in shock and Eduardo for holding up the game for 8 min. You may tink that I'm going over the top here but I watched MOTD last night and as I have sayed before I'm glad I'm not living in UK otherwise I would have to pay to keep that rubbish on air Mark L and Alan H could only critisise Wenger for his words spoken in the heat of the moment and had not a bad word to say about Taylor the gentle giant, now dont get me wrong I don't think for a moment that Taylor went in to couse injury to Eduardo and I fully accept that he is very sorry for what happened but it is so discusting that nearly all commentators seam focus on what Wenger sayed in the heat of the moment ( somthing he has now accepted was to strong ) and Gallas reaction at the penalty. Where are all the old Arsenal commentators, Smith< Wrighty, Merson, Dixon and the rest,theyr silence is defening.
24/02/2008 12:16:00
it also peeves me off that people can say we dont have any excuse to complain when we have a player like Eboue who broke JTs' foot,and gallas tried to end nanis' career,all with equally malicious intent
fran merida
24/02/2008 12:25:00
forget about alan smith,hes so up fergies and the medias ar$e you can just about hear his dull monotone voice
fran merida
24/02/2008 12:28:00
This isn't even about club loyalties, this is about acknoweldging that we can't keep using excuses for tackles like Taylor's. I've had the misfortune toread posts from a coupLe of Chelsea fans on this site over the last 12 hours (fortunately,some of their fellow supporters have more sense). I urge them to remember how they felt about Hunt's challenge on Cech.
Little Dutch
24/02/2008 12:35:00
Nice one LD. I thought I'd feel better after some sleep today. But your vivid account of what you saw at the ground brought all the terrible memories flooding right back. If we as fans are so absolutely gutted, imagine how Arsene and Gallas and the team were feeling. I remember the camera showed Lewin (not Gary - who's off with Eduardo to the hospital at that time, the other one, the assistant physio, also Gary Lewin's nephew or something) covered his face in his hands on the bench, next to Arsene's terribly sad and stern and angry face. They, having seen these tackles every single week right up close, must have seen it coming. And given what happened, one man terribly down and terrible ref decisions and 2 terrible points dropped despite how much they wanted to 'win it for Edu', why's it so difficult to understand Arsene's comments, players' performances and Gallas' behaviour? For the press to spend so much air time talking about those 'issues' are nothing short of petty and disgraceful. And all that said, is there anything we can do as fans to express our huge concern over this 'English' approach to the game?
Lou the Gunneress
24/02/2008 12:40:00
Great piece Tim, and one I wish you hadn't had to write. I thought I may feel a bit more upbeat this morning, but I feel just as bad for Dudu as I did when the challenge first happened. And of course you are entirely correct, the whole "Arsenal don't like it up 'em" culture has finally gotten the result it has threatened for so long, it's a complete disgrace, and without needing to name names there are several people out there who are equally as guilty for Eddie's break as Martin Taylor.
24/02/2008 12:42:00
Understandable that you dont write a match report LD. This has certainly become foremost in our thoughts. We've talked about how this was only a matter of time coming, and it only feels worse having been proven 'right' !
24/02/2008 12:46:00
Today is Eduardo's birthday. What a shocker.
24/02/2008 12:53:00
Actually Monday... He's 25 years old on the 25th...
Lou the Gunneress
24/02/2008 13:03:00
I have to write and say i wish Eduardo all the best wishes i can, no player deserves an injury like that, i pray that he can come back for you and Croatia, all at Pompey are thinking about him, and our prayers are with him.
24/02/2008 13:07:00
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