Birmingham unaffected by memories of Eduardo's leg-break, says Alex McLeish

26 March 2010 02:16
Arsenal, and Eduardo, travel to St Andrew's for the first time since their February 2008 fixture left the Croatian forward with a broken leg, William Gallas's captaincy in tatters after the defender staged sit down protest when James McFadden equalised for Birmingham via a last-minute penalty, and Arsenal's title challenge similarly compromised.

Understandably, it will be a tense occasion for all concerned, especially as the shockwaves from the afternoon continued for months. Wenger called for Martin Taylor to be banned from football for his tackle on Eduardo, while the Birmingham defender, who is now at Watford, received death threats from radical supporters, and when he addressed the subject on Eduardo's return to football last season, few were left unaffected. The mental scars had not faded.

Coping with tragic news: Pulling togetherMcLeish, however, is keen to let the matter rest. 'Time moves on,' he said. 'I just brush all that stuff off my shoulder, like a bit of dandruff.

"All I am interested in is this game against Arsenal. It's a great game for us. I have been inundated with requests from people who want to come. It's a big glamour game and I don't want to let my friends and certainly not the Birmingham fans down by us not performing to our best, and I will be imparting that on to the players.'

It remains that Birmingham were in part responsible for Arsenal's failed title challenge two seasons ago, and they could again prove a stumbling block. Arsenal are one point behind Chelsea and two behind Manchester United, but as both sides learned to their cost, victory at St Andrews is easier said than done.

'We're a better side than we were two seasons ago, but it doesn't necessarily mean that we will beat Arsenal,' McLeish cautioned, despite having presided over a 1-1 draw with United and 0-0 draw with Chelsea. 'We drew that game [in 2008] and we definitely did better against the top teams back then. But the reason for that was because we were more relaxed, we went into it feeling we had nothing to lose.

'Whereas in the Wigan game, the Bolton game, the teams round about us, we were up tight and got bullied a wee bit by the experienced players in those teams. We're a very different side now. We will try and play our football against Arsenal but we have still got to make tackles, just as the Arsenal team have got to make tackles. We can't stand back and admire them they are a hell of a good side.'

Source: Telegraph