Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Eduardo's Confident He Can Fill the Gap Left by Van Persie; the Controversial Striker Insists He Is Ready to Lead the Line for Arsenal Now the Dutchman Will Be out for Six Weeks. by James Olley

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Eduardo's Confident He Can Fill the Gap Left by Van Persie; the Controversial Striker Insists He Is Ready to Lead the Line for Arsenal Now the Dutchman Will Be out for Six Weeks. by James Olley

Article excerpt

Byline: James Olley

ARSENE WENGER is about to take a significant step towards learning if his unswerving faith in the controversial Eduardo is justified or misplaced.

It seems faintly ridiculous to claim a side that boast 17 different goalscorers in all competitions by mid-November can be so disarmed by the loss of one player, but Robin van Persie's six-week absence with ankle ligament damage represents a significant setback.

Van Persie had adapted superbly to his role at the apex of a 4-3-3 formation and his understanding with Cesc Fabregas has been at the heart of the Gunners' superb start to the season. Eduardo must now put a tumultuous start to life in north London behind him and make the same modifications if Arsenal are to continue unabated.

Since arriving for [pounds sterling]7.5million in July 2007, the 26-year-old has started just 30 games due chiefly to a horrific leg break suffered against Birmingham 21 months ago.

Although the Croatian returned to action in February, he has suffered a series of minor injuries as his body readjusts to the rigours of regular toplevel football and also became the victim of a calamitous attempt by UEFA to stamp out diving in the game.

Wenger never felt compelled to pay Bordeaux an inflated asking price for Marouane Chamakh based on the belief Eduardo can deliver on his potential.

Eduardo has 18 goals to his name -- an impressive haul given his intermittent appearances -- and although he has operated largely on the left of Wenger's three-pronged attack, Arsenal's No9 believes he is ready to play the role conventionally associated with his shirt number and lead the line.

"I'm feeling good. At the beginning of the season I had a few injury niggles but I am OK now and ready to help the team rise to the top of the table, as well as progress in the Champions League," said Eduardo. …

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