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It’s Champions League night as Arsenal and their opponent, Shakhar Donetsk both go in search of their 3rd consecutive win in the group phase which would put the victor in the driver seat to qualify for the next phase of the competition. A lot of flair is expected from this game as the Ukrainian pacesetters brings with them more than a handful of Brazilians, none more affectionate to the Arsenal fans than Eduardo.
For 3 seasons he was one of our own. While many including myself only ever saw Eduardo scored the first ever competitive goal at the Grove, we were wondering what Arsene Wenger has brought to the club. But what a player he turned out to be. As it normally is with new additions, they are slowly brought into the playing side and it was no different for Eduardo.
For 2-3 months, he literally was the most prolific striker on the planet. Every shot he took turns into a goal. It was unbelievable how easy he made it look. Somehow opposition keeper reacts a little slower to his shots on goal. He was banging it from all areas inside the penalty box and looks to have finally solved the “fox in the box” issue for Wenger.
Though, good things rarely last when it comes to this Arsenal. His was broken down by an over the top challenge from Martin Taylor. His leg broke in two parts and it meant a year out on surgery and recovery. Sadly, his leg wasn’t the only thing broken. His confidence was shattered and it utterly terrifies him to go into any challenge in the Premier League.
Hopefully he gets to play tonight and I’m sure we will afford him the same loud cheer that we gave Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires and Thierry Henry before him. It will allow Arsenal fans to say their goodbye and thank you to Eduardo. But that is as far as the hospitality goes. Shakhtar are no Barcelona nor Inter Milan and it is a home game in which we should play to win.
On to team news; Thomas Vermaelen, Bacary Sagna, Laurent Koscielny and Robin Van Persie are still out. Kieran Gibbs, Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott join Nicklas Bendtner back in the squad but not necessary starting tonight’s game. I suspect this is how we will line-up tonight;
Jack Wilshere should be afforded another game since he will miss the next 3 games for Arsenal after this one. He has a good head and we can only hope that he learns from the horrible tackle which earned him a red card against Birmingham. Without doubt that apart from Samir Nasri, Wilshere is the other outstanding in our short season thus far. It would be very unfair to label him by the only blot in his performance when there are so many other things to marvel at. Not least the composure he shows on the ball and effectively playing a deeper role than we originally thought he is suited for.
Abou Diaby should continue playing in the Fabregas role and should really improve on releasing the ball slightly faster and earlier than he did on Saturday. We had quite a number of breakaways on the counter but he somehow chose to slow down the movement by either holding on to the ball or dribbling a little too much. Andrey Arshavin is another one who has room for improvement, a massive one at that. As good as his statistics are in terms of goals and assists, his involvement in the game does not really reflect that. We need more out of this little fella and a little less of those back-flicks.
So, let’s go for a win tonight and I’ll talk to you again tomorrow and hoping it’ll be a positive review of the game. If not, don’t worry, Emmanuel Eboue is not looking to kill you.