Eduardo da Silva: A Look at the New Arsenal Signing

August 1, 2007

After the departure of Arsenal legend Thierry Henry to Barcelona, fans across the globe were both shocked and excited. Who was Arsene Wenger lining up to replace the French genius? Names thrown into the hat included those of the likes of Huntelaar, Owen, Torres and even that of Samuel Eto’o. A week later, the striker that came to Arsenal was not one of those ‘big names’, but a relative nobody compared to those players. Eduardo da Silva, nicknamed ‘Dudu’ joined Arsenal on July 3rd, 2007 and here I try to inform Arsenal fans about what a player we have on our hands.

Most Arsenal fans would have had a vague recollection of the name when he signed with us, remembering that he featured against the Gunners in a two legged Champions League qualifier last year. Although he shone, is he the man capable of filling the giant-shaped hole in Arsenal’s squad left by Henry? Even though most would say no, judging from his past experiences there is nothing that says he will not be able to do so. Brazilian-born but a player for the Croatian national team, da Silva has starred for Dinamo Zagreb in the Croatian league. His tally of 73 goals in just a 104 appearances speaks for itself, as does the numerous accolades he has won while with them. Voted Croatian player of the year in 2004 and 2006, as well as being the league’s top scorer in 2006 and 2007, Eduardo’s performances and goals have been instrumental in Dinamo’s march to two Croatian league titles as well as two Croatian Cup triumphs. His 34 goals in just 32 appearances last season was a new Croatian league record, breaking the 29 goals scored by ex-Dinamo striker Goran Vlaović.

While da Silva is nothing short of brilliant on the domestic stage, he is a star player for the Croatian national team as well. His stellar performances on the international stage have been one of the main reasons for Croatia rising to the top of Group E in the European 2008 qualifiers, a group containing the likes of England, Russia and Israel. With a record of 8 goals in 14 appearances, his goals per game ratio is up there with the best and surely will only improve. He already knows how to score against the big names, the highlights of his time with Croatia including a looping header to beat England goalkeeper Paul Robinson on the way to a 2-0 win for Croatia as well as a hattrick against Israel to wrap up a 4-3 win away from home. His partnership with Luka Modric has blossomed both at club and international level, and as reports linking Modric to Arsenal grow stronger and stronger, we may be seeing both of them linking up in the red and white very soon.

Surely the biggest question about how da Silva will cope is whether he can make the step up from the weaker Croatian league to the unforgiving Premiership- if he does, Arsenal will have a terrifying player on their hands. The weather should not be a problem, as anyone that can play football in the freezing climate of Croatia should have no problem with the relatively pleasant weather of England. Whereas other players like ex-Liverpool striker Morientes and ex-Arsenal player Jose Reyes could not adapt to the physical side of the Premiership because of its extreme difference from La Liga, the Croatian league is hardly light, with a lack of skill made up for with bone-crunching tackles. Whether he will set the Premiership alight or not is a question yet to be answered of course, as we can never be fully sure when the likes of Baptista, a player who seemed perfect for the English game have failed. Dudu, however seems to have the abilities to succeed and the attitude to replace Henry’s place in the team as well.

Where will Eduardo play? His best position is up front, although he is capable of playing on the wing as well. With him and Van Persie as our strikers, we would have two players that are left footed- an unusual strike partnership to say the least. If he were to be played out wide, his left foot could offer us something different as none of our other wide players are left footed. Although he is a decent player, the bonus about this Wenger signing is that he is not good enough to be guaranteed a place in the starting eleven- meaning he will have to fight for his place and thus, hopefully put in good performances week in, week out. Even the fans that had never heard of Dudu must have been gripped with excitement when they saw this player sign for us, because with players and signings, the phrase “Wenger knows” has rarely been proven wrong.

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