Edu provides welcome balance after 13-minute match

By Myles Palmer


Arsenal 3 West Ham 0


Wiltord 6, 13, 39


I think Wenger will use the same midfield shuffle against Spartak Moscow on Tuesday night.

Start Pires-Lauren-Vieira-Ljungberg.

Then bring Edu on for Pires, switching Lauren to wide right.

The only excitement in this farcical mismatch came at 4.22 p.m. after Edu had warmed up. I looked down and saw him reach for the zip on his padded training jacket. I thought : he’s coming on ! I’ve waited seven months to see this guy and now he’s coming on !

He wore gloves and stood on the touchline talking to Wenger. He had to wait five minutes on a freezing March afternoon for a break in play. It was really, really cold today.My own hamstrings ached in sympathy for the guy.The fourth official made him take off a neck chain.

After 67 minutes Edu came on for Pires.He is tall and left-footed and wears the No 17 shirt and he just played it simple.His first Premiership pass was a six-yard square ball, first time, to Vieira.

Edu is a formidable technician but he did not try anything fancy or flashy. He just played like a good team player should play in his first sub appearance at home. If the crossfield ball to the usually unmarked Lee Dixon was the best option, he just pinged it over to Dixon.

When Bergkamp set him up with a square pass Edu showed his class with a fizzing low shot from 25 yards which Hislop tipped round the base of the post.Maybe the shot was going in the bottom corner, maybe it was going five centimetres wide. I could not tell.

Harry Redknapp has his big game next Sunday against Spurs in the FA Cup. So he played his reserves today. No Joe Cole, No Di Canio, no Kanute, no Carrick.They also play Chelsea on Tuesday.

Harry had Gunners rejects Diawara and Suker up front and they both played like Muppets as I knew they would. One West Ham-loving journalist, a household name, said Diawara was the worst player he had seen for eight years.

So Wiltord scored a tidy hat-trick. He is better when he loiters with intent, rather than buzzing around across the field, losing the ball in the middle third.

When Wiltord plays like a clockwork mouse he is useless.But when he waits for a nice pass and gets one he scores.He MUST learn to be patient because good passes will come.

It was 2-0 after 13 minutes and after that it was a training game and a pantomime. Both sides knew Arsenal had won.

The lack of atmosphere was amazing, surreal.

Ljungberg was a nearly-man in this game, nearly scoring, nearly running onside, nearly making a good pass. But he is far, far better on the left,coming infield.

He took a nice pass from Vieira and gave Wiltord a nearly nice pass which Wiltord took cleverly on the outside of his right foot. He finished neatly, one on one, a jab past the advancing Hislop to make it 3-0 after 39 minutes. I thought : he must get six in this game.

The West Ham fans, who felt cheated, began to tease Seaman by singing, “England, England’s No 4!”Big Dave had not made the bench against Spain.

Ashley Cole has injured his right ankle and is doubtful for Tuesday night. Silvinho is with Brazil and does not come back until Friday.

Vivas came on for Cole after 55 minutes, Henry for Wiltord after 60.

Bergkamp played the whole 90 and did some nice things, and hit a few shots just wide. He did OK and looked as if he benefits from the Lauren-Vieira pairing.

He volunteered to play in Volendam in midweek in a charity game for the victims of the fire.Wenger apparently said he and Kanu had to train on Tuesday because they did not play Sunday. Kanu trained and flew out to Amsterdam.

Rob Hughes has written an amazing piece about the event in The Sunday Times.I was in tears when I read it.

3rd March 2001.