On this day: Eduardo da Silva suffers broken leg at Birmingham City

On this day: Eduardo da Silva suffers broken leg at Birmingham City

When Arsenal made the trip to Birmingham City eight years ago today, they did so as league leaders who had not lost any of their last 10 Premier League matches, having won eight of those.

The lead over their closest challengers, Manchester United, was five points, but by the end of the weekend events at St Andrews, coupled with United’s 5-1 thrashing of Newcastle United, saw that advantage cut to three.

Having scored in recent wins over Everton, West Ham United and Manchester City, summer signing from Dinamo Zagreb Eduardo da Silva was starting to have an impact for the Gunners at a crucial time.

However, his season was ended in just the third minute against Birmingham when he suffered a sickening injury. The Croatian international beat Martin Taylor to the ball, but the Birmingham skipper could not stop his follow through as he caught the Arsenal striker on the shin, which snapped his fibula and dislocated his left ankle.

Taylor was instantly dismissed by referee Mike Dean, while the players who remained on the pitch were visibly distressed by what they had witnessed. Following seven minutes of treatment, which included oxygen being given to the striker, Eduardo was stretchered from the field of play.

In terms of the action, 10-man Birmingham broke the deadlock in the 28th minute when James McFadden was brought down just outside the area by Mathieu Flamini. McFadden then dusted himself down to convert the resultant free kick with a curling effort.

The visitors, understandably, appeared to remain perturbed by their stricken teammate, but within 10 minutes of the restart they were in front thanks to young England international Theo Walcott.

First he scored from close range, and then he embarked on a solo run that saw him slot the ball into the bottom corner of Maik Taylor‘s net.

It seemed as though Walcott’s intervention had sealed all three points for Arsene Wenger‘s charges, but as the match entered stoppage time, Birmingham snatched a point.

Gael Clichy hauled down Stuart Parnaby inside the area and McFadden stepped up to power in the resultant penalty, much to the anger of Arsenal defender William Gallas, who sat on the pitch after the final whistle, almost in tears.

While Arsenal had dropped two points in the title race, unsurprisingly it was the injury to Eduardo that dominated the thoughts of both managers.

An unhappy Wenger said: “It goes with the idea that to stop Arsenal you have to kick Arsenal and that kind of thing was waiting to happen. Many people have got away with too many bad tackles. We’ve escaped a few times but it’s just not acceptable. If that is football, it’s better to stop it.

“The worst thing you hear after is that ‘he’s not the kind of guy who usually does that’, but you need to only kill one person one time – it’s enough.”

As for Birmingham boss Alex McLeish, he jumped to the defence of Taylor: “I’ve seen the challenge and, yes, the studs land on Eduardo’s ankle. In slow motion these tackles always look bad, but he’s not a malicious player – Eduardo was just too quick for him. The referee’s done his job, it’s a sending-off, but Taylor’s not a malicious player.”

It was an injury that ruled Eduardo out of action for 12 months, but he struggled to hold down a regular spot in the team upon his return and was eventually sold to Shakhtar Donetsk in July 2010.

BIRMINGHAM: Maik Taylor; Kelly, Martin Taylor, Ridgewell, Murphy; Larsson (Nafti), Johnson, Muamba, Kapo (Zarate); McFadden, Forssell (Parnaby)

ARSENAL: Almunia; Sagna, Gallas, Senderos, Clichy; Walcott (Denilson), Fabregas, Flamini, Hleb (Silva); Eduardo (Bendtner), Adebayor

Arsenal v Barcelona Champions League preview and Live stream

Arsenal v Barcelona Champions League preview and Live stream

Alexis Sanchez against Barcelona

It’s a big game for…

Alexis Sanchez: The Chilean has been outstanding for Arsenal since leaving the Camp Nou in July 2014, scoring 35 goals for the Gunners, and it is the first time he will face his former club, Barcelona. The 27-year-old has netted three times in the Champions League this season, despite only recently returning from a hamstring injury he suffered in November.

>>Click for Live Stream Arsenal v Barcelona<<

Best stat…

4: Barcelona have won four of their seven meetings with Arsenal, which have all come in the Champions League. The Catalans have only lost once to the Gunners – a 2-1 defeat when they last met at the Emirates in 2011.

Remember when…

Lionel Messi scored four goals against Arsenal in the 2009/10 Champions League campaign, as Barcelona progressed to the semi-finals.

Player to watch…

Luis Suarez: The former Liverpool striker returns to England for the second time since joining Barcelona on a rich run of form – having scored 15 goals in nine games in all competitions. With five goals in the Champions League to date, the Uruguayan has been the most prolific of his Barcelona team-mates. Suarez knows Arsenal well, from his time with Liverpool, and will look to capitalise on that in the first leg.

Past three-meetings…

Barcelona 3 (Messi 2, Xavi) Arsenal 1 (Busquets OG), Champions League, March 2011

Arsenal 2 (van Persie, Arshavin) Barcelona 1 (Villa), Champions League, February 2011

Barcelona 4 (Messi 4) Arsenal 1 (Bendtner), Champions League, April 2010

Bournemouth – Arsenal Preview & Live Stream

Bournemouth – Arsenal Preview & Live Stream

Bournemouth - Arsenal Live Stream
Bournemouth – Arsenal Live Stream

>>> Click for Arsenal Live Stream<<<

Arsene Wenger believes former Arsenal trainee Benik Afobe strengthens Bournemouth’s chances of avoiding relegation in their debut Premier League season.

Arsenal travel to the south coast on Sunday to take on Eddie Howe’s side, who already boast victories over Manchester United and Chelsea this term and currently sit 15th in the leage, seven points clear of the drop zone.

Their cause has been bolstered by the acquisition of Afobe from Wolves during the January transfer window, with the 22-year-old striker repaying Howe’s faith with three goals in his four top-flight appearances for Bournemouth.

England Under-21 striker Afobe led something of a nomadic existence during his time on Arsenal’s books, moving on loan to six different clubs before Wolves completed a permanent transfer for him last January.

Speaking ahead of the game on Friday, Wenger explained: “He was very young, he had big competition in front of him with Robin van Persie and players like that, so I gave him authorisation to go somewhere and play, which he did.

“You educate people to influence their lives and give them success. When they do not manage to play for us, if they do it somewhere else we are of course very happy for them.

“Benik has done extremely well, even beyond the expectations of many people and that’s great, that’s down to him and congratulations to him.

“I think the best way to stop him being dangerous is for us to have the ball and dominate the game and being aware that Benik is quick, strong and has good movement in the box.

“We are used to facing these kind of strikers in the Premier League because in every single club there are top-quality strikers.

“That’s the same with Bournemouth. I’ve always said that they will avoid relegation since the start of the season when I saw them play. They have enough substance in their game to stay up.”

In contrast to Afobe, Arsenal have been shot-shy recently – failing to score in the last three of four winless Premier League matches to slip five points behind leaders Leicester City.

The uncertainty at the top of the table is matched at the wrong end, and Bournemouth boss Howe believes the traditional 40-point target to ensure safety may prove deceptive this season.

“Every weekend is pivotal,” Howe said. “Sunday represents a really good game for our football club, we’re competitive and try to win.

“We’re conscious of people setting 40 points but we haven’t set any targets. We’re working towards goals, but it’s very dangerous to set 40 points as it could be more this year.”

Howe will make a late call on winger Junior Stanislas (knee), while Arsenal are without Thomas Rosicky.

The veteran midfielder might have played his last game for the club, with a thigh injury set to keep him sidelined for three months and his contract expiring in June.

Danny Welbeck returned to action for Arsenal’s Under-21 side on Friday but will not be risked at the Vitality Stadium, where Bournemouth hope to avenge a 2-0 December defeat at Emirates Stadium.
Key Opta stats:
– Arsenal have won just one of their past six Premier League away games (W1 D3 L2).
– Arsene Wenger’s team have not gone five league matches without a win since August 2011.
– Bournemouth have dropped more points from winning positions than any other team in the top flight (14).
– Eddie Howe’s men have scored a season-high tally (eight) and proportion (28 per cent) of their goals in the opening 15 minutes of games.
– If Arsenal fail to score, they will equal their longest run in Premier League history without a goal – four matches, established in February 2009.