Eduardo’s fine header against West Ham was a hugely important goal for Arsenal for more than one reason. Of course it ensured that they would progress to the next round of the FA Cup without the need of time-consuming replay. But it also signalled that their Croatian striker may finally be getting his confidence back after weeks of lethargic performances.
Before the horrific injury that he suffered against Birmingham in 2008, Eduardo was establishing himself as a quality Premier League striker. His finishing prowess was clear to see and the injury came at an unfortunate time as he was just beginning to hit top form for the Gunners. The brilliant chest-and-volleyed goal he scored against Manchester City was indicative of his impressive form. Since returning from his injury, Eduardo’s fortunes have been mixed. He has suffered with small niggles that have hampered his progress, but his confidence had not been diminished as shown by his stunning volley against Burnley in last season’s FA Cup. This season he started well and didn’t let the controversy surrounding the diving allegation against Celtic affect his game. However a few weeks ago, he suffered a rare goal drought and at one point his record was 1 goal in 11 appearances.
During this period, Eduardo’s confidence began to waver and his performances dipped drastically. His performance against Chelsea was woeful and he was hauled off after 57 minutes to be replaced by Carlos Vela. After the injuries to Nicklas Bendtner and Robin van Persie; Arsenal really needed Eduardo to step up as their only recognised senior striker but he let them down. His overall play against Chelsea was poor; he failed to control the ball with his usual deftness and his side were swept away. His poor performance led to him being dropped against Burnley and Liverpool; against Hull he appeared completely shorn of confidence even though he was up against a defence that a player of his quality should have relished playing against. He was fortunate with his goal as he scuffed his shot in front of an empty net and was relieved to see it nestle into the side of the goal. Despite his goal, he did not really improve in that game and more worryingly he did not appear to be enjoying his football. However he did score in that game and against Portsmouth a deflected free-kick earned him another goal; these strokes of luck would not be begrudged to a player who has suffered as much as he has and the two fortunate goals look to have invigorated him.
Against West Ham he had a positive second-half performance that culminated in the fantastic header to win the game. He beat Matthew Upson in the air to loop the header past a despairing Robert Green to put the match to bed. For the first time in a while he looked like the Eduardo that Arsenal fans saw before his injury. With van Persie and Bendnter out, it is vital for Arsenal that their one remaining striker is playing at the top of his game, and though he is not their yet, the signs are there, that Eduardo is rediscovering the form that he showed two years ago.