The last time Arsenal were in with a realistic chance of winning the Premier League title was in 2008-09 season. Just as now, the Gunners were in the lead going into the new year, despite having sold Thierry Henry to Barcelona, as well as Freddie Ljungberg and Reyes.
One of the main reasons for this was the signing of Brazilian striker Eduardo Da Silva from Dinamo Zagreb. Eduardo may only have scored four league goals in his first 17 appearances, but he was playing brilliantly and stopping us from suffering from the absence of the injured van Persie.
Eduardo and Adebayor scored on New Year’s day and by February, Arsenal were five points clear of Manchester United, when a trip to Birmingham City saw it all fall apart after a horror tackle put Eduardo out for the season and Arsenal never recovered. We drew that game as well as the next three against Aston Villa, Wigan and Middlesborough and then lost to Chelsea and United took advantage.
It was as much a mental thing as it was missing the contribution of Eduardo, but have the Gunners now got the mental strength, not to mention the players, to avoid the same thing happening after the Theo Walcott injury? I think so, for a number of reasons.
Gallas, who was the captain, lost the plot and instead of digging in, crumbled. The new Arsenal are a tough bunch who have already battled through many adversities this season. They will want to prove that nothing can stop them rather than feeling sorry for themselves.
Another big factor, for me, is that Walcott’s injury has happened while there is still time for Arsene Wenger to bring in players in the transfer window. He may not be able to get a direct replacement for Theo, but he can spend some of the millions the club has to buy a couple of top quality players who can really help with the title push.
Finally, Wenger and many of the players have been through the same situation with Eduardo and so will be on alert not to let the same thing happen again. We can’t let history repeat itself can we?