Recently, I heard an Arsenal fan exclaim that they are the unluckiest team for injuries in the world and, although I’m sure Everton fans will disagree with this, I can certainly see where he is coming from. You only have to look at Tuesday’s Champions League tie to see the Gunners are lacking luck in the injury department with Kieran Gibbs suffering serious metatarsal damage and William Gallas leaving the pitch at half time with a head injury. However despite the North London club’s seemingly ever-growing injury list, the most important name on it is still that of Robin Van Persie.
With the Dutchman set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines, it is obvious that someone needs to step up to the mantle if Arsenal are going to continue their challenge for the Premier League; that man, in my opinion, is Eduardo. The Brazilian-born Croatian has had a rollercoaster since joining Arsenal in 2007 yet this could be his chance to prove himself as one of the finest Premier League strikers. Since his return from injury the striker has struggled to find form and chances within the Arsenal starting eleven have been limited, however that is set to change after Robin Van Persie’s injury.
Eduardo’s potential should not be questioned, you only have to look at his form before his horrific leg break to realise this. He is a firm favourite with the Arsenal faithful and was one of the fundamental reasons that the Gunners mounted a strong title challenge in the 2007-08 Premier League season. The Croatian found a run of form after the Christmas period, scoring a number of goals including an over-the-shoulder flick against Manchester City and helped Arsenal climb to the top of the table. He appeared to look like the natural finisher and poacher that Arsenal sides have arguably lacked since the great Ian Wright. It is a widely accepted fact that Arsenal’s title challenge took the biggest blow in the fixture at St. Andrews, in which Eduardo suffered his injury and this shows just what a vital part of the team he was.
That however, was almost two years ago now and the striker will once again have to prove that he can lead the line for the Gunners. Although he may not be able to fill the exact role that the excellent Van Persie has been playing this season, he will still undoubtedly provide Arsenal will a goal scoring threat. The loss of a player of Van Persie’s talent will have an effect on the whole team and it is not just Eduardo that will need to step up to the plate. After his explosive introduction to the Premiership last season, Andrei Arshavin, for me, has been a disappointment. Although he has flashes of brilliance, he will need to show this more consistently in Arsenal’s time of need and it is likely that he will be looked at to provide service for the poacher Eduardo.
It will not just be the motivation of Arsenal’s title challenge that will drive Eduardo as you can bet he will want to prove himself again, showing that the injury has not affected his game. He just last week signed a new long-term deal with the club and will aim to repay the fans for sticking by him during his lengthy spell on the sidelines. In addition to this, if Eduardo can find the form that we saw of him in the middle of the 2007-08 season, then there is no reason that he cannot forge a partnership with the returning Robin Van Persie. With the summer departure of Emmanuel Adebayor, there is scope for Wenger to start the pair up front and with the creative abilities of Van Persie it is definitely a partnership that could work. Eduardo will look to start staking his claim for a regular Arsenal spot in this weekend’s clash of the titans as Chelsea visit the Emirates.