The exciting 2-2 draw between Arsenal and Birmingham will be remembered for all the wrong reasons after Arsenal striker Eduardo da Silva’s leg was horribly broken due to a shocking challenge by Birmingham defender Martin Taylor.
Three minutes into the match Eduardo skipped past his marker and Taylor came flying in with a studs-up challenge that connected with the Brazilian-born Croatian’s shin. It was a disgraceful tackle that left the Brazilian-born Croatian international with a broken tibula and fibula bone and will likely see him out of football for at least a year and quite possibly longer.
A lot has been said regarding Taylor’s challenge with opinions ranging from ‘it was an accident’ to ‘he should be banned for life’. My opinion is simple; Taylor set out to hurt Eduardo with that challenge and – regardless of how good a bloke he is off the pitch or the fact that he has apparently seen the injured player in the hospital – he deserves to be punished accordingly.
Unfortunately, the current methods of the FA means that the most Taylor can be banned for is three matches, a ridiculous outcome for an outrageously dangerous tackle. I had always just assumed that there was a panel to deal with more serious incidences of violent conduct so to find out there wasn’t one was quite a shock. It absolutely has to change after this incident and if it doesn’t, it will only be a matter of time until another player’s leg is broken as a result.
Thankfully, the diagnosis after emergency surgery on Eduardo is reasonable, with the striker remaining quite positive about his chances of fully recovering from the injury. However, he will have to deal with the psychological consequences of the injury and it is not so farfetched to suggest that he may never be the same player again. While football fans worldwide will be hoping that this is not the case, it is a potential and perhaps probable reality for Eduardo.
It is a reality that not only Eduardo and his family have to deal with, but one that Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal Football Club have to address as well. In the short-term there will be some major psychological consequences for the players to address as well as an increase in pressure on the available players due to yet another injury to a first-team player at a crucial stage of the season.
Injury could foster more unity
The positive irony of the situation is that it could serve as a catalyst to bring the side together. While critics may point to William Gallas’ amazing behaviour at the end of the Birmingham game as a signal that things may be falling apart at the seams for Arsenal, I think it just shows how much he cares about his team and by extension the teammate he saw getting stretchered off early on in the game.
Gallas is a winner and it’s not unrealistic to think that as captain he took the failure to win for his mate a little more personally than the other members of the side. If the team can show the same passion that the captain showed then Eduardo’s injury could help foster unity in an already cohesive squad and help push the club onto bigger and better things this season.
Indeed, Nicklas Bendtner and Emmanuel Adebayor do not seem to have the best on or off-field relationships but given the injury to Eduardo and the consistent unavailability of Robin van Persie they have a chance to forge something special between now and the end of the season. I’m confident that they can do it, but doubts will continue to surface until the start to show some genuine signs of camaderie.
The response from the Arsenal boys needs to be positive and given the events that took place in the draw to Birmingam this weekend’s game could be the most important of the season so far. The manager has just under a week to calm the players nerves and instill some real belief into the side before the crucial visit of an in-form Aston Villa side this Saturday.
If the boys can develop that siege mentality and win this weekend ‘for Eduardo’ they will have taken a significant step in the right direction. With the trip to Milan also around the corner it’s going to be a very important week for everybody associated with the Arsenal Football Club.
On a final note I just want to wish Eduardo and his family and friends all the best in dealing with this horrible injury. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy and on behalf of everybody who reads the blog I hope he can stay positive during this difficult time.
What do you think?
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