Monday, February 16, 2009

Taking attendance

Middle of February. Long way to go yet, yeah? 

Last year at this time Arsenal were sitting pretty and rolling downhill with some spectacular football. This year? Yeah, long way to go yet this year. Wins against the big-boys, sure, but five points behind Chelsea for that key fourth place spot in the league table for the Arsenal. Woeful form, disenchanted and frustrated supporters, a stripped captaincy, Jintao's heavy hand making supporters take an awfully long look at that snooze button at 6:30 in the morning, rumours of in-fighting, finger-pointing and bickering, an out-of-form-striker, a non-scoring-ego-maniac striker, a missing captain, a steam engine of a player who packed up for Milan, a flashy speedster out injured and a bomber of a midfielder who is still injured. Lots to do yet. Yep, lots and lots to do for a team that has been missing many, many pieces. And a team that has stopped scoring goals. 

Heading back to the 2-2 draw with Villa on Boxing Day when Arsenal looked like they were waking themselves up after staking a 2-nil lead, the team have scored 11 goals in nine matches in all competitions. Ahem. That return from a team that is supposed to be the one we look to for that kind of football. (Sidebar: I watched the Arsenal Invincibles DVD out of desperation for a look at that kind of football this weekend.) So here we are with a lot to do and a lot of missing pieces. Hmmmm. Let's take a look around that squad and see what we've got to work with today for the FA Cup replay against Cardiff City. If there's a competition we just might be able to pull something out of, it's the old FA Cup. Right, right, right. Win here, at the Emirates today against Cardiff and we face Burnley for a trip to the quarter-final and a match against either Sheffield United or Hull. Not too much to ask, that. Not too much to ask at all.

And just in time ... Eduardo da Silva stands up to be counted for Arsene Wenger, the supporters of the Arsenal and free people everywhere. "Yes, boss, I'm here. I'm ready."

Can there have been a more perfect, emotional and virtually scripted return for the Crozillian? Arsenal poured forward, they switched, they passed, they wove, they ran, they sent each other through in the seams and gaps of an overrun Cardiff side. And they scored. And they scored again, and again. They scored four times. And they kept a clean sheet. And they gave a first start back after injury to a man who, for all of his grace, inspires us all in so many ways. Arsenal supporters and neutrals alike can't help but be moved and applaud this man. 

Sure. People have come back from horrific injury in the past. Some have made it, some haven't. They've come and gone. Each matched with their own varying levels of success. But this feels different. It is different. Eduardo gives us more. He's an athlete. Nothing more complicated than that. He finds space, and he scores goals. He is not overly big, fast, powerful or tricksy. He is not overly accomplished, confident or storied. He is simply a man who knows how to score goals. And he is a man who pairs himself with a wonderful humility that, when coated in the pain he's endured over the last year ... just makes us all smile, shake our heads and say, "hot damn do I love sports. And does that boy look like Prince or what! Hey, I'll tell you what, put on some 'Purple Rain,' This calls for a celebration!"


MulderBurns said...

Ditto those sentiments. Couldn't believe I was watching him play yesterday. When it happened, first I literally felt sick, then I just hoped the man would be able to walk again. Never, ever thought he'd play again at this level.

Let's also toast modern medical science as well. It's probably not all that long ago that this injury certainly would have been the end of a career.

Darrell Balzrina said...

I wish I would have watched this match, as I was at work and only limited to a crappy ESPN gamecast. (does anyone have any suggestions to a footy feed for Premier League matches, besides, or livefooty?)

It seemed like every time I left my computer, for no more than 7 minutes, a gunner goal would result. Seriously, after the second goal when I left my desk, I guaranteed a goal would happen before I got back, and sure enough Eduardo makes an astonishing comeback.

Eduardo does give us "Jintao" supporters a little uneasy sensation, especially before the May throwdown, or possibly a semi or the real final for the FA cup, possibly Champions league....? Naaa that would be too much

Carl said...

I went to work knowing the Eduardo was going to start. I came home and discovered that not only did he play but that he had a blinder of a match. This is the next chapter in a year that honestly could have been better for the Arsenal. Eduardo's injury last year was a horrific one which Martin Taylor never was punished for. That's the past, the truth is it hurt to see our title shot dissapear after that injury. That one of the most entertaining footballers in the EPL may never play again. When Eduardo said he'd be back I mainly brushed it off as heroic bluster. When reports of him running surfaced in August I was flabbergasted. Wow he was doing it! He was making the Lazarus return. I kept lifting my glass to the salute of "For Eduardo" hoping that I would get to see the "purple rain" fall from the skies of the Emirates again. The rumors of a return in November were again getting to me. I mean less than a year and he'd be back in the red and white. He comes back at a time that we need creativity in the mid field. We need to catch a falling Chelsea and till JIntao to blow it out of his arse. My human rights will not be trampled by those cretins in red from the city of Manchester. This is the time we turn it around and show people who we are as a team, as supporters, as defenders of free people everywhere.
P.S. My shirt did not come from Target how's about yours?