Arsenal’s style is simply NO EXCUSE for hatchet men

Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey’s double fracture this weekend must bring an end to the targeting of Arsenal players during matches.

No-one wants to see such injuries in the game. Aaron Ramsey’s breaking of his Tibia and Fibula bones on Saturday took the shine off a most charismatic performance by the Gunners. Washed away has the character that side shown upon facing a spirited Stoke side who Arsenal find so hard to break down. It was a vital win for Arsenal and has put them right back in the Premier League title race.

Ramsey who is said to be recovering well after surgery on his leg was completely taken out by Stoke City defender Ryan Shawcross in the 1-3 victory at the Britannia stadium. Shawcross was promptly sent off and live TV replays of the incident were not show as to the nature of Ramsey’s break. Both sides were clearly shaken by the resulting injury and Shawcross left the field in tears.

What I took from the challenge was little malice on Shawcross’s part. The 22 yr old left the field in tears and was visibly distressed as to what he had just done. I think a crusade against the young Stoke centre back is wrong and should not be a course of action followed by Arsene Wenger or Arsenal fans. Wenger said in an interview with Sky Sports after the match ‘I’m not very happy with the tackle. I just want to say we know what we are expecting, a battle everywhere, but we have now lost three players – (Abou) Diaby, Eduardo and Ramsey today, a boy of 19 years old – on horrendous tackles.’

As Wenger said, this challenge is eerily familiar to those of Eduardo’s unforgettable break and dislocation in 2008 by the hands of Birmingham City’s Martin Taylor, and Abou Diaby’s eight month layoff with an ankle injury sustained by a challenge from Sunderland defender Dan Smith in 2006. Coincident? I don’t think so.

The common theme in England is that Arsenal plays the most attractive football in the Premier League, a quick short passing game using pace filled small technically gifted footballers. Much akin to Spanish giants Barcelona, Arsenal have prided themselves on winning pretty. Big Sam Allardyce when he was manager of Bolton realised the way to get at Arsenal was to boss them off the ball. Get amongst them, rash challenges and brute strength. Then hopefully nick a goal from a set piece. It worked. Stoke City employ much similar tactics and have become a difficult prospect for Arsenal to conquer. The Gunner’s 3-1 defeat at the hands of Stoke City in the FA Cup is an example.

Yet this mentality against Arsenal has to be used very carefully. I understand for a team such as Bolton Wanderers or Stoke City to gain anything against an Arsenal side, they have to get physical because Wenger’s men don’t like it and it knocks them out of their stride. Tony Pulis cares about getting three points, not how pretty the football is. But when these horror injuries such as the Aaron Ramsey’s this weekend occur it shames the tactics employed. Arsenal are targeted, that cannot be denied and this really reopens the debate of anti-football mentality destroying the ‘beautiful game’

I have been a critic of Wenger before; I find him hypocritical and stubborn but applaud him we must football philosophy he preaches. Arsenal’s style of football does not give opponents the right to specifically target players with rash challenges. The lets ‘rough em up’ ideology that is being perpetuated by managers, not the players I might add should be eradicated. English football is a physical game and we don’t want it to become like Spain’s La Liga or Serie A otherwise it wouldn’t be the Premier League. But there is a fine line between getting amongst a team and outright lunacy.

Aaron Ramsey is believed to be one of the most talented youngsters of his generation, the lad is 19 yrs old and he may never be the same player again. It’s a tragedy if that occurs and I truly hope not. Ryan Shawcross isn’t a vindictive player; the challenge was at worst rash and mistimed but not with malice. If its blame people are looking for then forget the players, it’s the ideology and tactics of managers telling their teams to throw themselves into Arsenal players in order to break up there play. Restraint must be shown.

Do you think Arsenal are unfairly targeted by teams? What should the Premier League do about it?

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