By Richard Clarke
Arsène Wenger believes he may have found his 'fox in
the box' at last.
The phrase was coined a few years ago by Thierry Henry to describe the type of predatory striker his Arsenal side were perhaps lacking at the time. For all their beautiful approach play, Wenger's men certainly lacked the killer instinct sometimes.
Over time the term became inextricably linked with the Club's search for a classic No 9. Francis Jeffers, Jose Antonio Reyes and Julio Baptista have all filled the shirt but could not fulfil the expectations.
Perhaps the same was starting to be said of Eduardo a month or so ago. His manager was happy to give the Croatian adaptation time after his summer move, most notably in Carling Cup games. But, with Robin van Persie's injury lingering on, Arsenal needed a goal-scorer to keep up their trophy bids on all four fronts.
Eduardo became that over Christmas. His brace against Blackburn and Everton helped to secure him the Arsenal.com Player of the Month for December.
The 24-year-old goes into tonight's Carling Cup Semi-Final with a record of six goals in his last four Arsenal starts. That is why Wenger feels his fox-hunt may be over.
"He is growing towards that [role]," said the Frenchman. "I must say he has deservedly got rewarded because he had an outstanding December.
"If you look at the numbers he has 14 starts, 11 goals. That is top, top numbers for any striker anywhere in the world. It is exceptional.
"And what struck me on Sunday at Burnley was not the goal he did score, but the one he didn't score. That shows you how big an improvement he has made in our minds because every time he is in front of the keeper you expect him to score now."Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 9 Jan 2008