Eduardo prepares for ‘emotional’ return to Arsenal
Shakhtar Donetsk v Arsenal, Champions League Group H, Tuesday October 19 (7.45pm) Sky Sports 2
IF THERE was one redeeming factor to Arsenal’s rather uninspiring Champions League group once the draw had been made in August, it was surely that it set up an Emirates return for Eduardo da Silva.
The Brazilian-born Croatia international left Arsenal for Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk at the end of July, and there were more than a few Arsenal fans who felt the player had been ushered through the exit door with a little bit too much haste.
Shakhtar paid �6m for his services, which was a high price considering the injury problems the 27-year-old had endured in his three years at the Emirates.
His Arsenal career will, sadly but irrefutably, always be remembered for the broken leg he suffered at Bitmingham in February 2008, when a tackle from City’s Martin Taylor broke and dislocated his left ankle.
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One of the most gruesome injuries seen in the English game in recent years, the sympathy for Eduardo was both heartfelt and widespread, but the plain fact remains that his Arsenal career never fully recovered, even if the player himself returned to action in under a year.
He struggled for goals at Arsenal last season, but has quickly found form in Ukraine, scoring four times in 10 games so far for Shakhtar, often from the subsitutes bench.
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“I always had a feeling that Arsenal and Shakhtar would be drawn together in the same group,” said Eduardo last month.
“It will be fantastic for me to come back to a club I will always love and respect, to see all my old team-mates and to play again in front of the best fans in England.”
The game, and the return in Donetsk a fortnight later, could go a long way to deciding Group H, with both sides having won both games so far. Shakhtar have six Brazilians in their squad and won the Uefa Cup in 2009. They are no mugs.
Arsene Wenger knows a win on Tuesday would go a long way to sealing early qualification for the knockout stages with testing trip to Ukraine to follow.