Let me start by saying that the injury to Aaron Ramsey was a horrible thing to happen and that I wish him a speedy recovery (I am a Wales fan, so believe me I wish to see him back playing ASAP). That being said though, I don’t believe that it was a bad, malicious challenge. Just a normal 50/50 challenge with a horrendous outcome.
I'm sure all you Arsenal fans reading this are going to slaughter me but I honestly don't believe that taclke was intended to hurt Ramsey and I don't believe that teams are out to hurt Arsenal,
I certainly don’t subscribe to Arsene Wenger’s theory that there is some kind of vendetta against Arsenal, with Ramsey being the third Arsenal player to have had his leg broken in the past 4 years. However, I said at the time and still say that the only thing wrong with Martin Taylor’s tackle on Eduardo was the outcome, Eduardo was just too quick for Taylor and sadly got badly injured. The only tackle that Wenger can genuinely be aggrieved about is the Dan Smith tackle on Abou Diaby, which was an appalling, reckless challenge that was genuinely dangerous (sorry guys can’t find a video to back that up but if you’ve seen it, you’ll know what I’m talking about). Wenger seems to not know the difference between a bad tackle and a tackle that ends badly, and there is a difference.
Look at the tackle again, if you can stomach it, Shawcross doesn’t go in high or studs out, which are the hallmarks of a bad tackle. His eyes are on the ball, not Ramsey, which they would be if he were out to hurt Ramsey. What Shawcross was trying to do was hoof the ball out with his laces, Ramsey nips in wins the ball and Shawcross’ momentum causes him to collide with Ramsey, with horrible consequences. It was a legitimate 50/50 challenge. Also look at his reaction; is it one of a man congratulating himself on a hatchet job well done? Or is it one of a man devastated by the results of a horrific ACCIDENT he was responsible for?
By the way, if you've not seen it, be warned: it's bad and if you're squeamish, don't watch it.
Arsene Wenger described Ramsey's injury as "horrendous" and the tackle that caused it "unacceptable", adding it was "ridiculous" that Shawcross would be suspended for only three matches. "It is a bad break, and Aaron will be transferred to hospital in London to see if emergency surgery is needed", he said. "This is a young player who has been kicked out of the game. I'm shocked, that wasn't football. If I have to live with that, I don't want to be involved in the game. My players were too upset to celebrate."
Wenger said: "This is the third player - Eduardo, Diaby and now Ramsey – we've lost to tackles that are unacceptable, and spare me the articles tomorrow about how nice Shawcross is because we had all that with Eduardo."
Tony Pulis immediately defended Shawcross saying “On behalf of everyone at Stoke City, we would like to express our deepest sympathy to Aaron and Arsenal at what has happened today. There is no way in a million years he [Shawcross] would ever go out and try to hurt someone. The lad was heartbroken at what has happened, you could see as he came off the pitch that he was in tears and he feels devastated that Aaron has been so badly injured."
Shawcross released a statement saying, “There was absolutely no malice in the challenge. I would never, ever go out to hurt a fellow professional. I am deeply upset that Aaron has suffered such a bad injury and my thoughts are with him. I would like to send him my best wishes too for a speedy recovery."
Stoke’s Rory Delap (who suffered a double broken leg similar to Ramseys on his home debut for Stoke in 2006) said "I've been on the end of it too when I broke my leg four years ago – my thoughts are with him [Ramsey]. It looked similar to mine. These things are the hard part of this game." Delap also alleged, that despite sending Shawcross off, referee Peter Walton agreed with the Stoke players that Shawcross did not intend harm. "The referee appeared to react to the seriousness of the incident rather than the actual tackle," said Delap. "I said to him, 'Did you see it?' and he said, 'I don't think he meant it but I've got to send him off.'"
There has been a said about the character of Shawcross; apparently he’s one of the games good guys. To me though that really doesn’t matter when it comes to tackles like that. Any player who plays in a contact sport can hurt another. It doesn’t matter if that player is Mother Theresa or a truly nasty piece of work like Kevin Muscat, any player can injure another.
Wenger clearly has his philosophy on how football should be played and his teams do play beautiful football. However (and he’s not alone in this by any means, Benitez does it, Mourinho used to do it), he does object to teams that play a style that doesn’t make it easy for Arsenal to win. He believes not only is his way the right way, it’s the only way and other styles of football are barbaric. He also believes that English teams are too physical and are out to get Arsenal.
Well he’s wrong, Stoke play a physical style of football, sure, but that’s the only way they can compete. They just don’t have the players to play the way Arsenal do. There’s nothing wrong with them finding a style of football that works for them. They are a tough team that aren’t great to watch but that doesn’t make them a dirty team.
Also remember that under Wenger Arsenal haven’t exactly been angels either, between 1996 and 2008 they racked up a whopping 78 red cards as a team. His players aren’t strangers to a bad tackle either. Remember William Gallas’ tackle on Bolton’s Mark Davies a few weeks ago? It was only pure luck that Davies wasn’t seriously injured. Was that a malicious, deliberate attempt to injure Davies? Of course not. It was a crude, dangerous, challenge. In fact it was probably more dangerous than the Shawcross challenge. However, the consequences were nowhere near as serious.
Contrast Wenger's reaction to that of Tony Pulis when Rory Delap got injured by former team-mate Robbie Elliott. ""Elliott is a seasoned pro, he knows Rory and I'm sure the last thing he would have wanted to do was break his leg". That's a far more rational and gracious reaction than Wenger. Wenger could do with taking a leaf out of Pulis' book.
Tackling is a part of football. It is an art form and one of the best parts of the game when done properly. In England we play a fast, physical game. It’s what makes the EPL exciting to watch. Taking tackling away would hurt the game, despite an awful injury to one of it’s rising stars. Wenger doesn’t like tackling and that’s okay, but he has to realise that it is a legitimate part of the game, not a sign that other teams are out to hurt his players. Also, accidents happen.