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He Broke His Leg But Now He's Back

Even on a joyous game such as last night, it would not be me if I did not have some kind of sullen moan, so I`ll get it out of the way early. Last night`s game was senselessly and needlessly played on a Monday evening due to the unwelcome interference of Setanta. With the original replay slain by the inclement weather, this game really ought to have been played on Saturday, leaving this midweek free to play the 5th Round. (You may remember this wasn`t a problem two years ago, when 4th Round replays were slated just three days before 5th Round ties, leaving us winning our 4th Round replay at the Reebok after extra time, just before 11pm on Wednesday evening, before playing Blackburn in the 5th Round at 12noon on the Saturday). But Setanta-, who had scheduled the prospective 5th Round tie with Burnley for Monday evening, could not be arsed to alter their schedules and so decided to disrupt the fixture calendars of ourselves, Cardiff City, Burnley, Sheffield United and Hull City respectively. It`s no wonder the channel is floundering miserably in the subscription stakes when they so visibly treat their customer base with such contempt. They are already audibly and tunefully derided by travelling England fans. Having already cancelled my own subscription in order to make a point, I don`t know of any other way to register my disgust with them other than in the most public way available to me.

Nevertheless, though Valentine`s weekend was at a close, there was a lot of love in the arena when Arsenal`s number 9 was announced in the starting line up, with Vela and Bendtner ably supporting in a virtual 4-3-3 formation. His appearance certainly lifted the crowd and that translated itself onto the players on the pitch, with the principal bearers of the Emirates brunt, Adebayor and Eboue, sidelined by injury and suspension respectively, a new era was ushered in with Vela and Eduardo selected in their places. Arsenal instantly looked fresher and more revitalised, Bendtner seemed to thrive on the confidence and put in his best shift of the season so far. His key critics might do well to remember that Chelsea`s 4th choice striker is Miroslav Stoch, Liverpool`s is El Zhar, United`s is Danny Welbeck and Villa`s Nathan Delfonueuso. Not one of those players can claim the contribution Bendtner has offered in the last eighteen months. In fact, I would chance that the four of them put together would struggle. Arsenal were feeding avariciously off of the good vibes and hit the ground running, one of a litany of Bacary Sagna crosses throughout the game found the head of Nicklas Bendtner; whose header drifted inches wide. The young Dane would be denied minutes later by some inspirational goalkeeping, Carlos Vela`s low strike was parried by United loanee Tom Heaton, Bendtner latched on to the rebound, but Heaton made a good, sprawling save, throwing himself at the ball like a last gasp action hero smothering a grenade, preparing to bear its terminal boom. Heaton was seemingly looking to make a name for himself with Cardiff`s first choice goalie Peter Enckelman injured, Vela hung in a cute cross from the left which found William Gallas unmarked at the back post, but Heaton saved well with his legs. Eduardo`s audacious chip from the halfway line nearly caught him out, but with Valentine`s Day consigned to the memory banks and the "romance of the cup" apparently fading into nostalgia, a moment of sentiment would be the Cardiff keeper`s undoing.

Carlos Vela raced down the left touchline, tucked the ball inside to Eduardo who played a deft ball back to his Mexican amigo and carried his run into the box. Vela delivered a precise cross which might well have been slung from cupid`s arrow and Eduardo warmed every heart in the stadium by coolly dispatching his header into the net. 359 days after seeing the man prone on the turf in the West Midlands and discussed the prospect of him ever playing again in the Railway End, here we were cheering another of his expert finishes in the penalty area. A truly remarkable transition and one that speaks of both of his physical courage and mental strength as well as the hard work of those that supported him, emotionally and physically. But the home side were in no mood to stand and admire, it was more a case of stand and deliver. Nasri`s right foot shot squirmed under the body of Heaton and drifted just wide. The Bluebirds could not handle Arsenal`s effusive swagger and on 34 minutes the game was put beyond them. Nasri floated in a left wing corner (a corner from the left that is, not a corner delivered by Tony Benn) and Nicklas Bendtner angled a gorgeous header into the far corner with Cardiff leaving both posts unguarded. The same player should have scored a richly deserved third goal too, Vela controlled another Sagna cross and fired straight at Heaton, the rebound fell to Bendtner who was leaning back just slightly and hit his shot against the foot of the post, Heaton was up smartly once again to block his rebounded effort. Of course I put the seal on it by remarking seconds earlier that Bendtner rarely misses when put in front of goal. Half time and the first time I can remember us not being booed off at home at half time in a long time. The feel good factor provided by Eduardo`s goal was even gratifying the fully paid up members of the microwave culture that pass for "fans" at home games these days. And those guys enjoy nothing more than gutturally spilling out their negativity on all of us, it`s the only reason they attend. Miracles will never cease.

The Gunners were keen to cease on the fact that they were actually performing really rather well for once and began the second half with gusto, Cardiff looking rather punch drunk, like a staggering boxer desperate not to go down for the count but whose legs and battered face were crying surrender. Vela was lucky not to be booked for a dive in the box early in the half, having already been booked for diving against Bolton last month, I trust the supporters that use Eboue`s theatrics as an excuse for their thinly veiled hatred of the man will turn on Vela in the same fashion. Perhaps we football fans are not quite the bastions of moral disgust that we like to think we are. However, there was little suspicious about Arsenal`s next penalty claim. Bendtner`s shot was once again saved by Heaton, and Eduardo, quickly sensing the situation, placed himself between the ball and Darren Purse, inviting the foul that duly arrived. Eduardo picked the ball up and nobody rushed to take it off of him. He converted the penalty with the sort of sangfroid that is his trademark in front of goal. His celebration acknowledged firstly his wife in the stands and then fitness coach Tony Colbert on the bench. Arsene Wenger quipped afterwards that Colbert had seen more of Eduardo than he had his own wife in the last year; romance was certainly in the air in the twin tributes of Eduardo`s celebration. He might have sealed his evening with a hat trick, Sagna`s cross was parried by Heaton and Eduardo hooked the ball goalwards, only to be blocked by the sprawling keeper. He was substituted seconds later to one of the more rapturous ovations our ground has seen.

Substitute Amaury Bischoff almost opened his Arsenal account when van Persie fed him from the right; he juggled the ball outside to his left foot and dragged the shot just wide. Arsenal put the seal on an emphatic performance in injury time; Bendtner played an excellent through ball to Robin van Persie who gleefully smashed the ball between Heaton`s legs with his sweet like chocolate right foot. That`s eight goals this season now on the weaker foot which would have been unthinkable eighteen months ago. Van Persie would then contrive to head Bendtner`s cross against the foot of the post with the last touch of the game, but even had it gone in, the night would easily have belonged to one man. The team performance was as fluent as I can remember for a long time, there seemed to be a buoyancy and enthusiasm to our play that has been missing for months on end. A lease of fresh blood into a team that had become stale and predictable had done wonders and hopefully this will provide the team with the catalyst they need to kick on for the rest of the season. Amos` article from the weekend touched on the possible symmetry of the run in for this season compared with last, we are getting players back where last year we lost them, the crisis in confidence and subsequent malaise since that day at St. Andrews all seemed to lift from the shoulders of the team. Eduardo`s return looked to be cathartic, but we still must exercise patience and allow him to slot back in at his own speed. To complete the sense of symmetry, a year ago last night a 4-0 defeat in this competition at Old Trafford was the start of the downturn, could a 4-0 victory in this tournament ignite our renaissance. These questions will be answered in time, but with Tony Colbert now allowed to be more attentive to his wife now and Eduardo able to salute his from the football pitch, it appeared that on Valentine`s weekend, the romance of the cup was back for one small flicker of recognition.LD.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday February 17 2009

Time: 11:50AM

Your Comments

EDUARDO DA SILVA ARSENAL'S NUMBER 9!!!!!!!
MrArsenal
Nice to see him back and with a bang.
Tiny T
Awesome - don't think you needed to compare eboue to vela. They are not anywhere near the same in terms of playing style and (from what I have seen at least) skill. One "simulation" does not an irritating player make.
Gunnerman
Great to see the wee man back for you. Terrific player. Hope he doesn't play against us (Liverpool) though.
KB1
Of course Eboue and Vela are different players, I wasn't comparing their styles. But they've both shown a propensity towards diving and if Arsenal fans aren't blowing smoke up everyone's arses and really hate Eboue because he's a diver, let them prove it by thrusting their anger towards Vela. It's only fair.
Little Dutch
Charming sheep botherers throwing shoes and phones at our goalkeeper.....lovely people eh?
LondonGooner
Yeah, they were none too lovely on the Blackstock Road after the game. How the police allowed them that size of ticket allocation I'll never know. I think I'm also right in saying that Eduardo was the 12th different outfield player to score for us this season, which I believe to be a club record?
Little Dutch
How romantic indeed! And cheers LD for confirming the stats about RvP's chocolate foot strike, I was wondering if he scored more with his right foot and head than his left.
GoonerLou
It was really great to see him back on the pitch yesterday and score a brace. I'm glad that he's managed to overcome his horrific injury and hopefully he'll be a big asset for you till the end of the season and beyond.
Fan of Blues
There's definitely a feel good factor after this game and that is something the team, club and supporters needed badly. It can help sustain us through the coming weeks but hopefully our experiences this season will make the whole team acutely aware of just how fragile it can be and just how important it is to not to let things slip. I think the record for number of different scoreres in a season is 18 and Eduardo has just equalled that. Arshavin might chip in before the end of the season - or Rosicky even, or is that taking the feelgood feeling a little too far? I think RvP should abandon his attempt on the woodworking hitting record though.
Amos.
The fact that we had 2 creative wide players on the pitch in Vela/Nasri and that Bendtner played the best he has for us for a while was no coincidence, now, come on lads, transfer that to the premiership, i can't wait for WBA away now!
shewore
Good point about the back up strikers at other clubs LD. Just the sort of perspective that we need before too quickly condemning our supposed lack of squad quality.
Amos.
We could replace Eboue with a three legged flea ridden donkey and still be a better team for it. The best news for me though is that Fab is a head of scedule and so is Theo, add those two plus Eduardo and Arshavin and we will start to play Wengerball again, not to mention that Rosicky seems to on his way back from death.
Armory
Absolutely brilliant to see him back. It was truly a stirring sight to see him score and the manner in which his teammates mobbed him. Here's hoping this is the start of something in the final run of the season. We need to be doing this week in, week out, against better teams than Cardiff.
Moorish
I think I've gushed all I need to about Eduardo, I'm as happy as larry, whoever he is!! It was a great team performance, I can't remember the last time the half time whistle was greeted with feelings of "we're realling going to spank these guys". But as soon as Eddie scored I knew they were on a hiding to nothing!! As far as the Vela - Eboue thing goes, I'm in agreement with Gunnerman on this one. I don't condone Vela's actions, but all things considered he's a 19 year old kid with lots to learn. He doesn't bitch at referees, he doesn't moan, he doesn't writhe around on the floor and he doesn't get himself sent off leaving his team mates in the s**t in massive games. There isn't really a comparison to be made, one is a slightly naive young player, the other is a f******* idiot.
Rocky7
As stated, he gave the team a massive lift. As Amos so eloquently laid out in his article, perhaps a mirror symmetry of last seasons capitulation is on the cards. One where we suddenly click in to gear and hit the turbos. The man is a credit to footballers everywhere, never complained, just worked his ********* off just to play in the Red and White again. It was truly emotional seeing his first celebration. He looked like he was holding the moment close to him, trying to suck it in. Great player, hope he can be some kind of catalyst and inspiraton for the rest of the term.
Gunnerman
Great to see Edu back, and scoring, twice; very, very nice read - you can almost feel the romance in the air. I didn't get to see the Bischoff contribution, though. How much of a prospect is he?
PTGunner
PT, Bischoff was only on for about 15 minutes, but he showed a good passing touch and vision, and beat a defender 1 on 1 before sliding a left footed shot just wide. I think he looks to be a solid player.
TPowell
I was so happy for Eduardo, and I need not add anthing to any of the comment laid out on here. What I will add is that is was nice to see Bendtner play with the sort of swagger that I was so accustomed to seeing from him at Underhill a few years ago. The boy is a seriously talented player, but due to his poor form this season, that was sadly missed by a majority of fans unfamiliar with his game potential.
ChaosTeaCup
You're right about Bendtner chaos, I didn't see him in the reserves, but what is clear is that last season showed he is a much better player than he has shown at times this year. The "recent" quotes attributed to him, whilst recycled and wildly mis shapen and decontextualised, did not trouble me a jot and I'm confused as to a) how people can be so stupid to believe the media when quotes are laid out in such an obviously dramatised fashion and when people should realise the way the media work with things like this. Seriously, how many times do you put your nads in the toaster before you learn it's a bad idea? Which leads me to b) how can people get so upset about a young lad saying he wants to play and believing he's good enough to do so? I suppose they would rather he say, "actually, I'm a bit crap and should probably go back to the reserves." It's a very English trait to laud false modesty and to deride any sort of confidence, but essentially, false modesty is the reserve of the mediocre.
Little Dutch
Good observation TP - Bischoff may yet turn out to be a decent player for us. I know it was 'only' Cardiff (playing badly) but I thought Denilson and Song did a good job in midfield and Toure looks to be recovering his confidence and form. It was also the best I have seen Bendtner play in eons, if he can maintain that enthusiasm and work rate whilst continuing to improve on his touch and finishing he will one day be a great player. Eduardo? Magic!
norfolk dumpling
LD, I can't agree with your equivalence between Vela and Eboue. If Vela plays for us for 2-4 seasons contributing little to nothing to the team, making poor decisions repeatedly, constantly diving and complaining to the ref, then YES, most certainly, gooners will treat him the way we treat Eboue. I can guarantee you that we'd put up with pretty much anything Eboue does as long as he delivered on the pitch--scoring goals might be a good start. I know lots of Utd fans who can't stand Cronaldo's antics on the pitch, they hate his diving--but they certainly like having him in their team. If you're going to be a jerk on the pitch, then compensate for it by DELIVERING as a footballer. // Incredible emotional afternoon for me and my fellow gooners at the "soccer bar" where we watched the game -- fans of other clubs also cheered and joined in our celebration both times that he scored. So many people wonder why football generates so much emotion, last night will tell you why. Apart from congratulating Arsenal's medical team, I'd like to thank the sports therapy center in Rio who worked so closely with Eduardo for so long.
jaelle
we are back. boom. i'm excited.
Chipo
I agree jaelle, but like I've said before we'll always forgive good players diving. Fabregas getting Arteta sent off last year, RvP against Spurs for Gallas' goal. I completely agree, my point is let's not pretend the dislike for Eboue is because he is a cheat as so many falsely claim. It's because he's crap. I just can't stand people hiding behind this supposed morality when, if we're honest with ourselves, we couldn't give a crap if our players dive.
Little Dutch
Ah-hah, now there LD, you are absolutely on-target! No argument from me at all. Fans are incredibly tolerant of awful behavior as long as a player produces. There is a lot of hypocrisy among fans, incl. me when I've sometimes mentioned Eboue's diving. I'm probably alone, tho, in thinking that Eboue's diving has been overstated in terms of frequency, I don't think he dives more than Cronaldo or Gerrard or other players. And I do hope Vela cuts it out from his game.
jaelle
BTW, LD, I was very happy to read your comments about Bendtner and how he compares to other teams' 4th choice strikers. The guy really deserves more credit than he's getting from us gooners.
jaelle
The feel good factor about the club in recent times was taken to another level with Eduardo scoring. I felt slightly better about the club once Arshavin was signed, and we heard positive reports about Theo/Cesc' comeback. Now this. Absolutely fantastic. We need to extend this run in the League as we have some relatively easy fixtures coming up. 3 points in all of them will see our confidence go up which be critical for the run-in. Its high time we got some positives going for the club.
prits
loved the theme of your article LD. well done on your observation re bendtner, also goes to show how arsenal is different to other clubs in giving opportunities to fringe players. i thought the "eduardo" factor really lifted quite a few players including bendtner of course but also song, toure, denilson, and the two fullbacks sagna and gibbs. i thought these guys in particular really played with a lot of gusto and you can feel their hunger to win the game. as for the man of the hour, what can i say except that he is a great asset for us as a player and ambassidor. the way he has handled all aspects of his horrific injury is truly exemplary. this game got me revitalized about the season, lets hope arshavin is able to add more this weekend.
supersof
LD, I tend to think that the moral high horse which fans ride tends to get tripped up when the player in question is doing all the nasties, but doesn't have any good stuff to make up for it. Pires was known to take a tumble or two, but then it's Pires. We all know how he got it on when it was time to get it on. Henry could strop around like a spoilt brat, but then produce a moment or two of magic and turn the game on it's head. Unfortunately fro Eboue, he doesn't do these things, hence the stick. Vela hasn't done what the likes of Pires and Henry have done, but he looks the part. You look especially at his performances in the CC, and you can see why he's earned himself some leeway for mischief whereas Eboue hasn't earned any leeway.
Gaga
^I'd agree with that. Anyway, can't we dislike him for being crap AND a cheat? ;-) but yeah, just about useful as a squad player - but I reckon there's better squad players to be found, eg, I'd rather a decent utility man like John O'shea.

Also just picking up on Bendtner, after a shoddy start he seems, based on that last game, to be picking himself up a bit. There's definitely a palpable vibe around Arsenal after the return of The Lethal Weapon. Maybe he will make everyone raise their game.
Gunnerman
That's quite true gaga, but it proves my point. Really, we don't care about diving, we care about the quality of the player. We just use the diving as an excuse because it makes us feel good to pretend we're really into fair play for a little while. Kind of like when you give a fiver a month to British Red Cross or something, we walk away and think, "wow, I'm such a nice guy." Really, to most of us a fiver a month is sod all and will do sod all to prevent starvation. Ronaldo is one of the most renowned divers in the division, if Arsenal could get him on a free transfer tomorrow not one person here would not take him.
Little Dutch
I hadn't read your comment to Jaelle. People don't hate a player because he is crap. They hate him because not only is he crap, he is also a **** as well. Many an "average" player have been loved by fans because they were honest, worked hard, gave it their best shot. Basically, if you're cheat who finds some magic to make up for it, or if you're a crap player who has some "application" to make up for it, fans will forgive you.
Gaga
We don't care about diving quite as much as we make out to be the case? Guilty as charged, your honour! We don't encourage or endorse it, but we'll let it pass if you can chip it like Vela!
I'm guessing it's possible to do a whole PHD in psychology based on that aspect of human behaviour! For all I know, it's probably been done somewhere.
Gaga
As a Manchester United fan, can I just say how happy I was to see him back and playing so well? I can honestly say, I have never smiled so much at an opposition goal. Well done Eduardo - it's good to see you back.
Man utd champions
Adrian Durham (talkSPORT) is now claiming that Eduardo does not deserve praise because he is a footballer. He does not risk his life in the war or risk job loss with a low income. Silly.
Tom14
That guy is a first class pe***
paul_ownz
Out for 2 weeks now, hamstring. Bugger!!!
MrArsenal
Dudu's injured! - pulled his hamstring just before being taken off! *sigh*
SUX2BU
I think he did it stretching to try and get the hat trick when Heaton saved his shot. I too played football for the first time in a year last Friday and I pulled up with a calf strain. There again, I very much doubt Eduardo has spent the last year drinking Guinness and eating pork scratchings.
Little Dutch
Ahh pork scratchings. You know you shouldnt but you always go for it after a few jars. They almost taste sickly but you can easily go through a pack. And even when you still have the hairs of the pig sticking out you still eat it. Appart from that they are a great snack to help you destroy your filllings. Right, off to the pub for some scratchings. By the way, what did you do to be out for a year?
paul_ownz
No injury save for laziness, osseo arthritis and a touch of tendonitis in the last few months.
Little Dutch
I think Martin has said sorry for the injury that was caused to Eduardo, he never meant it so why say sorry for that?" - Alex McLeish Boy they are a classy lot that Brimingham eh? Scummy manager, scummy player, scummy club.
LondonGooner
The funny thing is, it looks to me that Birmigham are the ones that keep talking about it.
Little Dutch
 

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