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Eduardo takes final step on road to recovery as Arsenal return to Birmingham City
Published : 26 Mar 2010 17:03:59
It is a point of view to which the best possible riposte is the sad case of Eduardo da Silva, Ramsey's Arsenal team-mate. More than two years have elapsed since Eduardo suffered a broken leg and dislocated ankle under the force of a similarly wild tackle and, while he will return on Saturday to St Andrew's for the first time since that incident, no one is yet ready to pretend that his road to recovery is complete. Not even Wenger. Related ArticlesMcLeish: Eduardo leg-break a distant memoryBirmingham City v Arsenal: match previewArsenal to lean on Sol CampbellPremier League predictionsLoic Remy wants Arsenal moveSport on television"I believe he is still on his way back and not completely back to where he was before but the signs are positive," said the Arsenal manager. "I knew it would take him a long time he had a second operation at the end of last season and he has also had a few muscle problems. I felt for a while that he had not completely found his sharpness, but in training over the last two or three weeks he has shown he is getting it back. "Mentally he is convinced he is over it. Playing at Birmingham is an opportunity for him to get over it completely; to be confronted by something that happens to you like that is always good." With Eduardo departing in an ambulance on his only previous visit, Wenger accepts that he may have a "weight in his mind" as the team-bus pulls into the stadium at around 1.30pm. He is adamant, though, that the Croatian has the mental strength to deal with such distressing memories. "He has just to prepare his mind to deal with that," said Wenger. "It is like you drive the same way every day in your car; one day you have an accident. Afterwards, you cannot go this way anymore. You have to live with it. Life goes on. "It is only one time in the 1,000 times he played which he had an accident. It happened at Birmingham, but could have happened somewhere else." There is also the issue of the potential wider impact of dropped points on Arsenal, especially given that the unravelling of their title challenge during the 2007-8 season basically began with Eduardo's injury. An injury-time Birmingham equaliser that day left William Gallas staging a bizarre sit-down protest and Arsenal went on to win only one of their next seven league matches. Considerable hope, however, can be derived from the way Arsenal have responded this season with such renewed purpose and five straight wins to the similarly traumatic Ramsey injury. Wenger is adamant that his young team are now showing additional maturity, but he also does not regard the Eduardo incident as the central explanation for Arsenal's decline two years ago. "It was a dark day, but not the darkest," he said. "Gallas did not behave the way he should have done, but he behaved like that because he cared. Ideally you do not want to show any weakness. "We did not lose the championship that day but it created some unrest. People always pick out one isolated incident and think it's all down to that. We did not deal with it well on the day but there were much heavier ingredients, like some players being not completely focused. Afterwards, we had players who were at the end of contracts." Martin Taylor, whose tackle inflicted such damage on Eduardo, has since moved on loan to Watford and Wenger does not expect to hear his name chanted this afternoon, as was the case when Birmingham supporters sang what he called "atrocious" songs at the Emirates earlier this season. Some 763 days have since passed, but Wenger also stressed that he has not "mellowed" in his condemnation of Taylor's tackle. The experience of spending so many of those days working with Eduardo has seen to that.