By Randy Osae
Some things are just meant to be.
Football kibitzers have craved the sight of Eduardo da Silva kicking again whether in red and white or not. But indeed when fully unleashed on Monday night, the actual script unraveled better dreams.
Eduardo did not just run about to mark his Arsenal return after a long, dim year out, he notched a brace – helping Arsenal advance to the FA Cup’s fifth round in the most emphatic fashion.
All before today, this had been the merriest of fairy tales.
But besides all those exploits of the Croatian, ask regulars at the Emirates Stadium and learn confessions that today’s prolifically had been one thing missing for a while now.
Bendtner was joined upfront by the auspicious presence of Eduardo. That was additional to some expected changes Wenger made. Carlos Vela finally started only his second non-Carling Cup game as a left-winger, while Fabianski and Gibbs served as ordinary deputies for Almunia and Clichy respectively.
You sensed Eduardo’s return would buoy Arsenal’s lumpish men. And it did just that. The Gunners set the pace from beginning as Bendtner headed Sagna’s cross waving the near post.
Then Vela’s 30-yard drive demanded a punch from Heaton who could still scramble a follow-up from Bendtner. Gallas made most of a Vela cross moments later, but his header – drifting low to the corner of the net – was met by the goalkeeper’s knee.
Eduardo had also made warm tries at goal earlier on, but capitalized another Arsenal move, not with that popular left-foot of his but the head that endured aches of the past 12 months.
The 25-year-old fed Vela through on the left, raced into the box and nodded his Mexican teammate’s cross on the move.
Nasri then initiated a spell of massive bombardment by Arsenal at Heaton with a long-range effort which was barely grasped by Cardiff’s stopper. Arsenal’s French youngster still proved influential in what would be the game’s lethal twist. He swung in a corner-kick on 34 minutes and Bendtner leapt highest, glancing a header home.
After just faintly notching in that goal, Bendtner would be guilty of a far less fortuitous touch moments later. The Dane made successive follow-ups after Vela’s close-range effort was saved, but from merely inches out, he would hit the post and then horribly against the keeper.
Jay Bothroyd felt the need to test Fabianski from 25-yards out nearly at the hour mark, but to be honest, that was very occasional.
A couple of minutes later, Eduardo was found tangling with Rae in the 18-yard box. Considering the more protection he will attract when fouled these days, referee Mark Hasley rightfully rewarded Edaurdo a spot-kick. And he converted it with aplomb – cheekily for a double.
He was then given a breather 23 minutes from time with Van Persie on while Nasri and Vela went off for Ramsey and Bischoff’s cameos.
At the death, Arsenal’s Dutch hot-rod and Eduardo’s substitute rapped up matters. Van Persie was sent free just into the box and he lashed the ball through the legs of Heaton.
That was the elated end to a day and hopefully the beginning of a season’s new shift.