The Brazilian-born forward was a vital part of the Arsenal team that had charged to the top of the Premier League last season until a horror tackle from Birmingham City’s Martin Taylor ended his season and ruled him out of the summer’s European Championships.
That game at St Andrews was a particularly bad one for the Gunners as, along with Eduardo’s injury, Arsenal gave away a last minute penalty that saw them draw 2-2 and captain William Gallas throw an almighty strop. This was a pivotal moment in their title challenge and it was one from which they never recovered.
Huge credit must go to the doctors, physios and Eduardo himself for getting back to fitness so soon. The horrific images from the incident left many to think whether he would play again.
To put the speed of Eduardo’s recovery into perspective would be to look at the plight of his team-mate Tomas Rosicky. The Czech captain limped off in Arsenal’s home victory against Newcastle on January 29th with a hamstring problem. Complications with the injury and an additional knee problem mean that he is not expected to be back playing until after Christmas.
Eduardo’s return will be a huge boost to Wenger as he is a popular member of the squad and his injury had a huge effect on the team morale. He will also give them another striking option as his neat link-up play and predatory instincts have been missed. While Carlos Vela is a very similar player to the Croat, at 19 he is not yet ready to lead the line.
Wenger also used the AGM to have a little dig at the media and the Emirates crowd after booing could be heard on the half-time whistle against Everton last weekend, with his young team trailing 1-0. He said: “I am personally very proud. But I believe this team needs a strong guide to go through difficult periods, because at the moment I do not feel that, either from the media or our supporters, that this team gets the support that it deserves.”
The Arsenal Supporters Trust back what the manager had to say. A statement from the AST said: “”The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust shares Arsene Wenger’s view that the matchday atmosphere at the Emirates sometimes needs galvanising.
“Sometimes Arsenal’s fans forget just how young our players are given their quality and that they need encouragement on the pitch.”
Wenger highlighted how well the club is set for the future both on the pitch and off. He said: “First of all I feel the Club is well-managed financially and I am very proud that we live within the resources we create from our own business and we do not need external income. I feel that is very important for the future of the Club.
“Another big reason to be optimistic is that we have been very consistent. Through the years we have always been at the top level and we always want to win trophies but the most difficult thing to achieve is consistency.”
Chairman Peter Hill-Wood also moved to reassure fans that the club would not sell out to foreign owners. Saying: “Arsenal runs through my veins and we do not want control handed over to somebody who has not got Arsenal in their blood. Rest assured, we are not going to sell out to the first man who comes along”
Wenger went on to talk up the success that their academy is having in producing young English players and believes that soon they will see the benefit. “I would like to say as well is the structure of our team is fantastic, but very young. That means that tomorrow will be better than yesterday.
“It means as well that nothing dramatic will happen to this Club. For years we have had a foreign influx but we have worked hard with young English talent. They will be ready within one or two years to produce results.”
There was also some exciting news away from the AGM as Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp hinted to BBC reporters that he would like to return to the club one day. Bergkamp, who is working with Ajax while he acquires his coaching badges, was in North London yesterday alongside another Dutch legend, Johan Cruyff, at the opening of a new football facility. He said: “”People ask me the question if I could come back to England one day to coach and I say yes.
“I always enjoyed it here and it’s a fantastic country to be involved in football. Maybe in the future I will be back in some way.”