By Chris Harris

Arsène Wenger believes that Eduardo’s return to action this week brought to a close a “sad” period for the Club.

Monday marks the anniversary of that fateful day in Birmingham when Arsenal lost a clinical striker – and lost their momentum in the title race. Eduardo was left stricken by a broken leg and dislocated ankle before a controversial late penalty stopped Arsenal opening up an eight-point lead at the top of the table.

It proved to be a turning point. Manchester United closed the gap to three points just hours later and eventually passed Arsenal and onto the title as Wenger’s players struggled to recover from their double St. Andrews setback.

It was impossible not to reflect on February 23, 2008 when Eduardo returned to first-team action on Monday night and, with the anniversary fast approaching, the topic cropped up at Wenger’s pre-match press conference on Friday.  The Arsenal manager admitted it was a dark time for his team.

“I think we were hit very hard by the Birmingham situation,” he said.

“Is it [our failure to win the title] completely down to that? I am not sure. But I believe that the comeback of Eduardo somewhere for the team was the end of that period.

“We have played some good games after that incident as well but when you don’t win, people see bad games.

“If you didn’t know that we didn’t win a trophy last year and you watched some games after the Birmingham game, you would be surprised because we played well at Liverpool, we played some good games, we played very well at Man United, we were unlucky to lose, and we lost the game in the last 10 minutes at Chelsea.

“But, of course, it was a sad period.”

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20 Feb 2009