Preview: Birmingham City vs Arsenal
Eduardo da Silva fittingly symbolizes this fixture, 762 days after a horrific injury which was followed by a terrific recovery.
The Croatian and Arsenal return to St. Andrews this weekend for the first time since when the former broke his leg while the latter broke its link with the Premier League title two seasons ago.
It should be a sentimental revisit but several factors have obstructed arrangements for what was to be the ‘Eduardo injury memorial’ on Saturday.
Hatchet-man Martin Taylor will not reunite with his victim after leaving the blues in January while Eduardo’s indifferent form means any participation on Saturday will depend on the charitable mood of his manager.
Aaron Ramsey’s recent misfortune has already given an unwanted remembrance of Eduardo’s nightmare and most significantly, Arsenal’s no-nonsense title chase means there will be no time to deal with emotions tomorrow.
Such is the seriousness of the Gunners’ title focus that even a glamorous upcoming clash with FC Barcelona will be overlooked at the expense of a result against Birmingham.
Expect an ‘out there to win’ side from Wenger on Saturday.
“I don’t consider Barcelona for the next game. At the back we need to be solid to win this game [at Birmingham]. We fight the whole season to be in there and this is a priority.” the manager said at his press-conference
“I believe my players are very intelligent and if we were distracted it would mean we were not [intelligent]. The best way to prepare for Barcelona is to win the game before.
“We have fought like mad until now to be in the position we are in. It’s ten months preparation, fight and work to be where we are in the championship so we want to take advantage of that and win the Birmingham game.”
Arsene Wenger is right, his men have indeed fought like mad to get where they are.
Less than two months ago, Arsenal football club was a sinking ship after resounding defeats to rivals but following a run of six straight victories, now just two points adrift of the league leaders, the Gunners are truly a rising force as far as the title race is concerned.
The next question for them now must be a ‘Birmingham’.
According to the dictionary of 2007/08, that term will be defined as a moment in a season when a steady title chase crumbles.
But the answer is; Arsenal have already faced a ‘Birmingham’ this campaign. That came four weeks ago at Stoke City where the Gunners emerged victorious despite all the drama which was wrapped around Aaron Ramsey’s broken leg.
Maybe Arsenal will just have to banish a second ‘Birmingham’ this season when they arrive at St. Andrews tommorow even with plenty echoes at the back of their mind.