2009-02-18

Eduardo Da Silva set for his return: Taylor feels a little better now


Birmingham City’s Martin Taylor has spoken of his relief at Eduardo’s return to fitness, and hopes his own ordeal over the broken leg incident is now at an end.

Indeed, the controversial Taylor received death threats after his tackle Eduardo in last February’s Premier League game left Eduardo with horrific injuries. He has always maintained that the tackle was not malicious, and says he has received plenty of support over the last year.

“I must admit that it’s a relief to see him back playing,” expressed Taylor.

“But there is nothing like that first proper game because you are never quite sure whether you have recovered or not. I had a feeling he would be okay because he’d played for Croatia last week. I think it lifted Arsenal on Monday night and I can understand why.

“To recover both mentally and physically — to get through that training and to get back to that standard — he has done really, really well. We must consider that you have to be exceptional to reach that level in the first place. It is one thing to come back and play at all. It is another to play for Arsenal.”

Speaking about the tackle, for which Taylor was dismissed, the former Blackburn footballer expressed: “‘I know in my heart of hearts that it was an accident. A horrible accident. So I wanted to see him playing again. You can never be sure. I was hopeful because of the updates I received from the Gunners. I kept my fingers crossed when he was playing in the reserves.

It’s amazing to notice that in the immediate aftermath of that tumultuous 2-2 draw at St Andrews, Arsene Wenger called for Taylor to be banned from football for life, comments the Frenchman later retracted.

However, the immediate aftermath of the incident proved incredibly difficult for Taylor and his family.

“I had death threats,” he expressed. “No one would sit here and say that was enjoyable. When I received them, I wasn’t too sure with some of them. A couple were written in crayon, some were more sinister. and in despite of that, generally, I didn’t take them too seriously.

“Ninety per cent of the correspondence I had, though, was encouraging. We must consider that the other 10 per cent wasn’t.”

Asked whether Eduardo would shake Taylor’s hand should the pair meet again, he expressed: “I wouldn’t expect him to. Maybe, I don’t know. It’s up to him.”

Arsenal boss considers impossible to hunt Manchester United

The French coach Wenger has conceded for the first time that Arsenal have no hope of title in the Premier League this season, as he declared the current leaders Manchester United just untouchable for them.

We must consider that Arsenal sit in fifth place, 15 points behind the reigning champions, after United victory over Fulham, a victory that takes Sir Alex Ferguson’s side five points clear of second-placed Liverpool.

All the top five sides will have 13 clashes left to play after tonight, with Arsenal still to visit United, giving them a small chance of reducing the points difference. However, Wenger sees United as being in such amazing form that even an Arsenal victory at Old Trafford would not halt Ferguson’s men on their way to a third successive Premier League title.

In any case, Wenger’s side visit Old Trafford on the penultimate weekend of the season, when a victory might come too late to make any difference. Wenger cannot see United also losing four other games to give Arsenal a chance of the title.

The manager expressed: “We promised ourselves to give everything until the very last day of the season. At the moment Man United look untouchable, they beat Fulham tonight. United’s results are really consistent. They victory 1-0, and in despite of that, you always think during the match they will drop a point tonight, or drop maybe more than two points, and in despite of that, no, they always manage to find, somewhere, the resources to victory the game.

“That means if they victory their game in hand they are 15 points in front of us. That means they need to lose five games for us to catch up. Let’s say they lose one against us, that leaves four. They still need to lose four other games, which they haven’t done yet this season. and in despite of that, we promised ourselves. We are very consistent. We are on a very strong run. We just missed the goals recently we know we are capable of scoring.”

It’s amazing to notice that Wenger saw his side cruise into the fifth round of the FA Cup on Monday night, defeating Cardiff City in their replay 4-0, and they now have a relatively straightforward path through to the semi-finals. They next play Burnley, at the Emirates, and if they victory that they will play either Sheffield United or Hull City in the quarter-finals, again at the Emirates.

However, Wenger has downplayed the importance of the Cup, insisting that it is more important to finish in the top four of the Premier League, thus qualifying for the Champions League preliminary stages.

Wenger, whose last trophy was the FA Cup in 2005, responded, when asked about the Cup being his best chance of silverware: “I believe our basic target is to get in the Champions League. Therefore the championship remains our priority.”

The Gunners’ hopes of overhauling Chelsea or Aston Villa to finish fourth were lifted with the return to first-team action of Eduardo on Monday night. Their Croatia international forward played his first encounter for Arsenal since breaking his left leg and dislocating his ankle against Birmingham City 51 weeks ago.

Eduardo scored twice, with a header and a penalty, and looked lively throughout his 67 minutes on the pitch, before he was taken off as a precautionary measure, due to a tight hamstring.

Wenger expressed Eduardo, 26 next week, had shown that, “mentally, he is as strong as a mountain” in coming back from such a serious injury.

We must consider that the Brazil-born Eduardo wants to carry on where he left off last season, when his goals looked like they might take Arsenal to the league title. Now he has his eyes on European and FA Cup success.

He expressed: “We have three months until the end of the championship. I am here to help Arsenal to be on top of the Premier League or in the first three. Now we are in the FA Cup, I want to get to the final and in the Champions League we want to go far. I feel I can play again like before.”