Tempers flare after horror tackle

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger could not contain his anger at Birmingham’s Martin Taylor after the defender’s horror tackle left Eduardo fighting to save his career.

Eduardo underwent surgery in Birmingham’s Selly Oak hospital on Saturday night for a double compound fracture of his left leg after Taylor’s lunge cast a black cloud over the English Premier League match, which finished 2-2.

The Arsenal manager was so disgusted with the third-minute tackle by the Birmingham central defender that he said: ”The guy should never play again. This is the result of a very bad tackle that is not forgivable.

”People will always use the excuse that the guy is not a dirty player and that he did not mean it. It is like a guy who kills one time in his life. You still have a dead person. The injury is a very, very bad one.

”I don’t want to talk about his future career. It does not look good at the moment. He is out for the season, but we are scared about what happens after that. I have seen worse tackles and sometimes in our game you get away with it, but just look at the tackle; it is a joke,” he said, adding: ”It is horrendous and you cannot tell me that he tried to play the ball first. It is not acceptable.”

However, later on Saturday, Wenger attempted to tone down his fury at Taylor.

”It was a highly emotional afternoon and we were all shocked by the injury to Eduardo,” said Wenger, who expects the Croatian to miss this summer’s European Championships. ”On reflection, I feel that my comments about Martin Taylor were excessive. I said what I did immediately after the game in the heat of the moment.”

Play had to be suspended for eight minutes as Eduardo was given morphine on the pitch and oxygen, before leaving the field on a stretcher.

Wenger has feared for a long time that a major injury has been waiting to happen to his squad and he accused Premier League rivals of trying to kick his players deliberately.

”There is an idea that you can stop Arsenal by kicking them. I knew this kind of thing would happen one day,” he added. ”We have escaped serious injury with one or two tackles already this season, but I knew it would happen one day.”

The tackle earned Taylor a straight red card from referee Mike Dean, but Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish said: ”Martin Taylor is not a dirty player. Eduardo was too quick for him. Arsene can say what he wants. I did not think Martin’s foot was that high. He was not up his shin or his knee.

”We are devastated and Martin is distraught about the player’s injury, but I did not think it was a sending-off tackle. But it was never our strategy to kick Arsenal. We can’t be physical. Look at the size of their players to ours.”

Later on Saturday, Birmingham issued a short statement defending their player.

”The club are saddened that such a fantastic game of football has been marred by a serious injury sustained to Arsenal player Eduardo,” said the statement. ”But Martin Taylor is adamant there was no malicious intent in the tackle and he is deeply upset by the extent of Eduardo’s injury.

”Having reviewed the incident, this [no malicious intent] is clearly the case. The club and Martin Taylor would like to send their very best wishes to the player for a speedy recovery.”

It was a depressing day for Arsenal, who fell behind to James McFadden’s 28th minute free kick.

Theo Walcott levelled after five minutes after half-time when he stabbed in Emmanuel Adebayor’s header from close range. That was Walcott’s first Premier League goal for Arsenal and he got a second five minutes later with a surging run and fine finish.

But Birmingham stole a controversial point deep into stoppage time. Gael Clichy should have cleared but allowed Stuart Parnaby to take possession. The French left-back’s recovery tackle appeared to win the ball, but referee Mike Dean gave penalty.

McFadden drilled his spot kick past Manuel Almunia to spark an incredible display of petulance from William Gallas, who kicked an advertising hording before sitting motionless on the pitch for several minutes after the final whistle.

Arsenal’s lead at the top was then cut to three points later on Saturday when Manchester United crushed Newcastle 5-1. — Sapa-AFP

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