It’s a fairly quiet day ahead of Arsenal’s final group match against Porto in the Champions League tomorrow night, and when things get quiet my thoughts sometimes turn to one of my favourite players, our long-term crock Eduardo Alves da Silva.
I’m a huge fan of the skillful striker and I think his impact on the Premier League last season was remarkable. In fact, I firmly believe that the reason Arsenal did not win the title last season was down to that fateful day at Birmingham City’s St Andrew’s when he sustained one of the worst injuries I have ever seen.
I watched the game on TV that day while I was in Spain – and while the Spanish directors were only too keen to show replays of the tackle that caused such horrific injuries, even they had the decency to curtail footage of the distressed player as he received urgent medical attention on the pitch.
Much has been written about that day, but my personal opinion is that Eduardo’s team mates did well to get a point after witnessing what had happened to one of the dressing room’s most popular personalities.
The tackle that ended the Crozilian’s season came after just three minutes of play, although it took a lot longer for him to be stretchered off the park, and nobody on the pitch was in any doubt as to the seriousness of his injury.
The fact that Arsenal recovered sufficiently to come back to take the lead from a 1-0 deficit was fantastic. Then, of course, the home side got a last minute penalty that never was and William Gallas staged his infamous sit-down protest.
That is all ancient history though, as Eduardo is now just days away from making his competitive comeback…
Dudu has been quietly training with Arsenal’s first team squad for a number of weeks now, although Arsene Wenger only revealed that fact recently, presumably to protect the player in case he had any adverse reaction to the step up in exercise.
Maybe it’s down to his strong religious belief, but the strength of character that Eduardo has shown since day one has made him a hero in the eyes of many Gooners and with no setbacks, despite Wenger’s rigorous training routines, it’s now just a question of regaining match fitness before we see our number 9 back in action.
Backing that up, Le Gaffer’s right hand man, Boro Primorac has been quoted in the Croatian press saying, “Physically Dudu looks very, very good.”
Stating that the Gunners’ coaching staff is “satisfied” with Eduardo’s return to training, he adds, “The most important thing is to begin playing in competitive games.”
That return could be as early as tomorrow when the reserves travel to Aston Villa. If Eduardo does not feature in that game, it is likely he will play some part in the Portsmouth reserves game at home next Tuesday.
The Croatian press believes that if Dudu comes through those tests he may even get a place in the Arsenal first team squad to face Liverpool on December 21.
I’d be surprised if the 25-year-old hitman is rushed back quite that quickly, but I wouldn’t be at all shocked if he was involved in the Portsmouth game on December 28.
I admit I am one of Eduardo’s biggest fans and his 12 goals in 31 games last season were am impressive start to his career in England.
His return – hopefully this month – cannot come soon enough and while the premature end to his season effectively ended Arsenal’s title chances last season, perhaps his return this year could be a catalyst for the team to clinch victory in 2009.