Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Eduardo Blooms as Arsenal Spring Back; Striker's Stunning Goal Comes as the Gunners Shake off Their Winter Blues to Look a Team Capable of Winning Trophies. by James Olley

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Eduardo Blooms as Arsenal Spring Back; Striker's Stunning Goal Comes as the Gunners Shake off Their Winter Blues to Look a Team Capable of Winning Trophies. by James Olley

Article excerpt

Byline: James Olley

ARSENAL 3 BURNLEY 0

AFTER the dark gloom of the winter months threatened to engulf Arsenal's season, the Gunners are now sprouting signs of recovery as spring fast approaches.

Arsene Wenger's side carried the midweek momentum of closing the gap on fourth-placed Aston Villa into the FA Cup with a display that included f lashes of the scintillating football that has been absent for so much of the campaign.

Although Carlos Vela opened the scoring with a goal of considerable class, it was Eduardo who provided the inspiration in attack that was encapsulated by his magnificent second-half strike.

And the return of Theo Walcott as a substitute after a four-month absence due to shoulder surgery helped promote the feeling that Arsenal haven't been in better shape for some time, just as Wednesday's Champions League trip to Roma hones into view.

The Italians will palpably pose a much more expansive threat than Burnley did yesterday but comeback kids Eduardo and Walcott showed enough here to give Roma serious food for thought.

"Eduardo looks to me far more mature now in his game than when he arrived," said Wenger, whose side will defend a 1-0 lead in Rome. "His finishing was absolutely superb.

"I had a report from Roma's 1-1 draw with Udinese on Saturday that they protected a few players -- Francesco Totti and Mirko Vucinic. They will play with a different spirit on Wednesday, I'm sure of that.

"I haven't made the team yet but Walcott and Eduardo have a good chance of being in the squad. We are going into the final sprint. For us it is important to keep all our targets alive. We are slowly getting all our players back and that can be decisive.

"The positive is we didn't concede in the first leg. We know we cannot only go there and defend. We want to attack and try to score." Whether Eduardo is quite ready for Wednesday night is debatable but his impact is undeniable. After a goalscoring return from a broken leg against Cardiff and a subsequent minor hamstring strain, the Brazilian-born Croat gave Arsenal their imaginative sparkle of old in the final third to set up an FA Cup quarter-final meeting with Hull.

The 26-year-old gave the home side an impudence, arrogance and confidence in attack to match the quality that has never been in doubt during the Gunners' faltering campaign.

After Vela had turned Burnley defender Clarke Carlisle with ease and dinked a delightful finish over on-rushing goalkeeper Brian Jensen, his strike partner produced a contender for goal of the season.

Alex Song, who put up his best performance for some time, chipped a pass to the back post where Eduardo volleyed the ball off the outside of his foot into the top corner before Emmanuel Eboue added a late third.

It represented a stunning expression of how a player who is expected to be easing his way back into the game after a career-threatening injury is in fact fast becoming the creative catalyst for his under-achieving team-mates. …

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