Arsenal arrived at St Andrew’s in February 2008 as favourites to win the Premier League title. Arsene Wenger’s side were playing some swashbuckling football and had established a handy seven-point lead over Manchester United. They had lost just once all season and were facing a Birmingham side that looked like a team who would be scrapping for survival right until the end of the campaign. They left a broken side and it was a psychological blow they wouldn’t recover from.
The game was just over a minute old when Arsenal forward Eduardo was tackled by Birmingham defender Martin Taylor. It wasn’t a good challenge and a red card was immediately brandished by Mike Dean. As Taylor received his marching orders, Arsenal players and experienced physio Gary Lewin immediately called for the stretcher. Eduardo had suffered a dreadful double leg fracture in the tackle and it was so gruesome, none of the TV companies broadcasting the match live could show what had happened. Although Eduardo would go onto play professionally again, he never looked the same after these events.
The Arsenal players looked haunted by what they had just witnessed and there was more to come. A double from Theo Walcott meant they’d battled into a 2-1 lead but then, they conceded a penalty in injury-time. Captain William Gallas was so disgusted with the decision; he threw a petty strop, walking to the other side of the pitch. James McFadden would convert the spot-kick to earn a share of the spoils for Birmingham. Afterwards, Wenger couldn’t hide his anger at the Eduardo injury, saying: “That is a joke. The tackle was horrendous and I don’t think that Taylor should play again. When these tackles happen, they always say that he is not that sort of player. But you only have to kill someone once and you have a dead person.”
He would later retract those comments on an awful day for Arsenal. They wouldn’t win any of their next four matches and ultimately finished third, four points behind champions Manchester United.