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A Victim Of Archaic Tactics? Or Just Unlucky?

A Victim Of Archaic Tactics? Or Just Unlucky?

As Aaron Ramsey crumpled under the challenge from Ryan Shawcross today, he became the 3rd victim in four years in an Arsenal shirt to be on the receiving end of an horrendous leg-breaking challenge that will see his career put on hold for a very long time.

Previous players to suffer these career threatening injuries were Abou Diaby, who's leg was broken whilst playing away at Sunderland by Dan Smith and Eduardo, his limb snapped by a tackle from Martin Taylor in a 2-2 at St Andrews vs Birmingham.

It's all to easy to over-react when incidents like this occur, calls for players to be kicked out of football for thuggery, claims that some players do these things intentionally are often heard. But the reality is (that with the exception of Roy Keane) very few players set out to intentionally injure a fellow professional, indeed, Shawcross' tears as he left the pitch were genuine and I saw that there was no intention.

Of course over the next few days we'll be hearing statements from people like Tony Pullis and Shawcross's teammates about how he's a fair player, and he would never do anything like that on purpose, and they'll probably be right, but that still doesn't detract from the fact that a 19-year-old boy lays in a hospital bed this evening with his legs in pieces hoping that his career won't follow suit.

So, is there blame to be apportioned? Or are Arsenal just very unlucky to have suffered a succession of violent looking injuries in quick succession?

I feel there is blame, but not a single person, more towards a collection of philosophies that believe it's ok to supplement a lack of talent with over-zealous physicality.

Over the past 10 or so years, Arsene Wenger has created a style of play that teams of lesser technical ability have struggled to come to terms with, and football has become such big business that people will do everything in their power to get the desired results to ensure they remain in their highly paid jobs.

It goes back to matches witnessed at places like the Reebok stadium where we sit an watch Arsenal players kicked into submission, and with the tactics getting the desired results, many teams followed suit.

Is it any coincidence that all 3 horrific injuries occurred in away games against teams that are, with the greatest respect, technically inferior to Arsenal?

The media also jumped on the bandwagon, all to often using phrases like 'Arsenal don't like it up 'em' or 'to beat Arsenal you have to get in their faces' (Seriously, if I hear David Platt say that one more time I'll get in his spoon shaped face) as if to promote this tactic to ensure the viewers would be back to view Arsenal getting beaten by the underdogs.

The macho and ego driven world of football is all to willing to turn a blind eye to managers employing the 'go out there and kick them' tactics, scared that the game is turning into something akin to basketball.

'Back in the day' hard tackles and tough football were the order of play, but this was a footballing philosophy taught religiously, and the players were good at what they did. These days the ego will not allow for a game to be lost by technically superior team, instead of accepting defeat and trying harder to overcome the difference in talent, it's easier to kick and punch your way to victory.

A loaded gun in the hands of a trained professional is a weapon that can be used for its purpose, in the hands of an incompetent it's a lethal device that can ruin lives with innocent victims bearing the brunt of its destructive force, even if the shot wasn't intended.

Maybe it's time to give up the gun?

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Saturday February 27 2010
Time: 9:02PM


i thought the same regarding leg breaks away to lesser teams,but what can we do about it?like fabregas said 3 times is way too many
fran merida
27/02/2010 21:10:00
No it's not time to give up the gun. But we should only allow the trained professionals to hold the gun. Or punish those who misuse/abuse the gun enough to discourage that behaviour. Yes accidents do happen. But has any other team had 3 broken legs in 4 years, all from away games? I think we all know the answer.
27/02/2010 21:14:00
chainmail leggings lou?
27/02/2010 21:19:00
The sentiment in this article is spot on. It's all too easy to see the excessively physical play of teams like Stoke as a fair leveller but Shawcross had no need to make that type of challenge in that area of the pitch. It's purpose wasn't to win the ball because he could have absolutely no control over where the ball would end up. The tackle was for the major part intended to intimidate the player and make him wary of any future challenge. I don't see any need for sympathy towards any player willing to risk injuring another player anymore than a driver jumping the lights deserves sympathy.
27/02/2010 21:44:00
There is a huge difference between "getting in someone's faces" the way teams like Everton do it (hard yet fair) and the outright thuggery of teams like Stoke (just hard). As recent victims of their rugby league tactics I can safely say that I knew it was only a matter of time before they seriously injured someone. Whoever rated the Premier League as the best in the world must have reckoned without the likes of the neanderthals from Stoke.
27/02/2010 21:50:00
From what I saw of the tackle, it was a poor first touch and then Shawcross overreached to redeem the situation. In a split second, sometimes the mind will let a player think 'he can get there' even when in hindsight he should realise the ball was already lost. Unfortunately on the field of play hindsight doesn't occur. It has been unfortunate that 3 players have suffered broken legs, but in each case it cannot be said the tackles were pre-mediated to cause injury. Seeing the ridiculous tackle on Robbie Savage last week by Pintado last week, which fortunately didn't result in a serious injury, how do we measure what constitutes crossing the line? The outcome of the incident, or the malice of the intent beforehand? In the Pintado case he went straight through the player with no chance of even hoping to get the ball, whilst I recall with the 3 broken leg injuries, none have matched the viciousness or the intent but sadly have resulted in more grevious outcomes. There can be so many variables that it is unfortunately impossible to rule out the well intended but poorly executed tackle which has a dreadful outcome. However, the authorities should now look at the disciplinary system and adopted a situation where yellows can be made reds after the game, and that a sensible look can be given to the issue of tackling. If players realise that the disciplinary action against them may not end at the end of the game, even if the ref has taken action during the game, then fewer reckless tackles might occur.
27/02/2010 21:57:00
here here. Absoloutely right, there is a massive difference between hassling and harrying and getting up close and personal, and just being so ***** you can't even ******** tackle properly. Pulis and Stoke can't ***** off back to the championship soon enough.
27/02/2010 21:57:00
@kernoboy, retrospective punishment can't come soon enough. I've been banging on about it for years. As well as video tech. Of course Shawcross didn't mean it and he is probably distraught - that doesn't stop him being ***** at tacking.
27/02/2010 21:59:00
@Gunnerman, Shawcross's tackling this season has not been a cause for concern. Spurs lost Modric earlier this season due to a more reckless tackle from Bowyer. And of course whilst a broken leg is appalling, is it any worse than a tackle which causes significant ligament damage which may not receive the same press but could be even more devastating for a players career?
27/02/2010 22:04:00
I think in the Dan Smith case the tackle on Diaby was meant to injure him though probably not to break his ankle. All the tackles were at the very least intended to intimidate the player to inflict pain and thereby make them wary of the next challenge in order to concede possession. None of the tackles were perpetrated in areas of the pitch in which the team was at any immediate risk. Unless and until reckless challenges are seen for just that the risk of serious injury will be disproportionate to the advantage gained.
27/02/2010 22:05:00
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