McFadden rescues late point
Gunners drop two points and lose Eduardo to injury
By James Pearson. Last Updated: 23/02/08 6:36pm
McFadden: Crucial brace
James McFadden's last-gasp penalty for 10-man Birmingham rescued a point against Arsenal, although the game was overshadowed by the horrific injury to Eduardo.
Blues were up against it from the start when Martin Taylor was given a straight red card within three minutes of the kick-off for a tackle on Eduardo which resulted in the Croatia international breaking his leg.
The Gunners were not themselves for the remainder of the half and actually went a goal down when McFadden curled home a delightful free-kick for the Midlands outfit.
However, the visitors started the second half with renewed determination and within 10 minutes of the re-start found themselves in front courtesy of Theo Walcott's brace.
Despite appearing to be coasting to victory there was one final sting in the tail when Gael Clichy's challenge on Stuart Parnaby in injury-time allowed McFadden to score his second from the penalty spot and secure an unlikely point.
The game was just three minutes old when Birmingham centre-half Taylor was dismissed following his robust challenge on Eduardo.
The Brazilian-born Eduardo, who broke his leg, looked in distress after the Taylor challenge and replays were not shown on TV because of the seriousness of the injury.
It was fully six minutes before the Gunners striker was eased onto the stretcher before being taken from the pitch.
Arsene Wenger immediately replaced Eduardo, who will be 25 on Monday, with Nicklas Bendtner who spent all of last season on loan at Birmingham.
In a tactical reshuffle Blues boss McLeish took off Mikael Forsell, brought on Parnaby at right-back and switched Stephen Kelly to centre-half alongside Liam Ridgewell.
Arsenal shrugged off the injury setback and Cesc Fabregas showed great skill to set up a chance for himself on the edge of the City box and his 20-yard drive was only just too high.
Maik Taylor clung onto a low left-footed drive from Bendtner after a mis-kick from Mathieu Flamini had fallen into his path.
But after 28 minutes Arsenal were stunned when McFadden put City ahead with his second goal in two games.
McFadden's persistence won him a free-kick and he curled the ball over the defensive wall and into the roof of the net even though Manuel Almunia got his fingertips to the ball.
Emmanuel Adebayor squandered a golden chance to level matters when he raced onto a through ball from Fabregas. The ball sat up nicely as Maik Taylor came off his line but Adebayor scooped his shot over the crossbar.
The chances were starting to come more regularly for the Gunners and an Alexander Hleb cross picked out Adebayor who directed his header wide when he would have expected to at least hit the target.
But in first half injury-time McFadden could have doubled Birmingham's lead. He seized onto a pass from Sebastian Larsson and beat the offside trap but, with only Almunia to beat, put his shot wide under pressure from Philippe Senderos.
Arsenal came out for the second half as if they meant business and Maik Taylor tipped over a curling effort from Fabregas and a more powerful drive from Flamini.
It came as no surprise when Walcott put Arsenal level after 50 minutes.
Maik Taylor was outjumped by Adebayor following a corner from Fabregas and the loose ball fell to Walcott who made no mistake from close range.
It was the first league goal scored by an English player for the Gunners since Justin Hoyte in January 2007.
It was now one-way traffic towards the Birmingham goal and Taylor again did well to tip over a fierce shot from Hleb.
But after 55 minutes Walcott struck again to put the Gunners ahead.
This time the England Under 21 player created the goal for himself with a mazy run before beating Maik Taylor's dive with a shot into the corner of the net.
Adebayor was having one of those days in front of goal when nothing was going right and he was again denied by Maik Taylor after bursting clear of the Blues defence.
Then in injury-time McFadden rescued a point for the home side from the penalty spot after Clichy's clumsy challenge on Parnaby.
Barclays Premier League
|11||West Ham United||37||47|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||37||44|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||37||30|