Eduardo faces his St Andrew's demons

Wenger cannot forgive Taylor for tackle that left striker with broken leg
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The Independent Football

Time may be a great healer, and Eduardo da Silva's broken leg and ankle have knitted back together, but Arsenal's manager Arsène Wenger says he cannot forgive Martin Taylor for the tackle that could easily have ended the Croatia international's career.

Arsenal return to Birmingham today for the first time since Taylor's challenge in the third minute of their Premier League game two years ago caused a horrific injury and was punished with a red card.

Since then, the defender has moved, ironically to Watford, whose training ground at London Colney adjoins Arsenal's. Wenger, asked if his feelings had mellowed a little, said: "No. But it is best not to speak about that anymore.

"The best way to help Eduardo is not to speak about what happened there. He has a good opportunity on Saturday to show that he has got over that."

Eduardo still has a metal plate and screws in his leg. He needed a second operation and eventually returned last February, almost exactly a year after the injury, scoring two goals against Cardiff. Neither player appeared when Birmingham were beaten 3-1 at the Emirates in October, but Eduardo was in the stadium to hear what Wenger called the "atrocious" chanting of Taylor's name by visiting supporters.

"I don't expect that and I don't want to hear that [today]," Wenger said. "I believe Eduardo is still on his way back, and still not completely back to where he was before, but the signs are positive that he is getting better. I knew it would take him a long time.

"Don't forget that he had a second operation at the end of last season, and that surgery was decisive in helping him get back to where he was. Mentally, he is convinced he is over it. I felt for a while that he had not completely found his sharpness, but in training over the last two or three weeks he has shown he is getting it back. But it took him a long time. The injury had affected his pace, but now he is back to full pace, and Saturday is an opportunity for him to get over it completely. To be confronted by something that happens to you like that is always good."

The same applies to the team as a whole, who must forget the trauma they suffered that day, which many believe cost them the championship. Wenger disagrees: "It was a dark day, but we did not lose the championship that day. We still drew the game, but it created some unrest."

About to go eight points clear of Manchester United, Arsenal conceded a controversial last-minute penalty in a 2-2 draw at St Andrew's, causing William Gallas to stage an extraordinary sit-down on the pitch. The next four games produced only three points, while United won six matches in a row and went on to retain their title. After a similar injury this season to Aaron Ramsey at Stoke, however, Arsenal won in the last minute and have a 100 per cent record since. "We have matured," Wenger said. "These boys are winners. We've shown we keep our nerves and keep going. We will need the same qualities again at Birmingham."

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