First Abou Diaby, then Eduardo and now Aaron Ramsey. The Welsh teenager has become the latest name on a list of Arsenal players struck down with horrific injuries in the past few seasons.
Ramsey suffered a double leg break that will keep him out of action for at least the rest of the year, with the possibility that the injury could be even more severe: it is not unheard of for injuries of this nature to cost players their careers.
But it is only down to sheer luck that other players this season haven’t suffered the same fate, and the offenders of similarly awful challenges have got off with little more than a slap on the wrist. Is it right that Shawcross, whose calamitous tackle caused the injury, will have his name dragged through the mud because his bad actions have had terrible consequences?
Wenger was infuriated by Shawcross’ challenge, calling it “horrendous.” He added, “To see a young lad of 19 injured like that, it’s just not acceptable.
“It’s not football for me and it’s not what I like in the game. If we have to live with that, I refuse to do that.
“Of course (the Football Association need to act). I can do nothing about it. The players are professional and they have to respect the rules and respect each other.”
In saying this, Arsene Wenger indicated that he believes the FA need to take a harder line on players who cause this type of injury. But without being disrespectful to the situation suffered by Ramsey, wouldn’t this make football far too consequence-based?
Bad tackles happen. Sometimes they result in terrible injury, as seen yesterday, and sometimes players walk away miraculously unharmed.
The Merseyside derby a fortnight ago saw some of the worst challenges this season, but all of these were brushed aside given the “full-blooded nature” of local derbies.
If Marouane Fellaini had caused Dirk Kuyt serious damage by kicking him in the head, or if Stephen Pienaar’s horror challenge had broken a leg, would it have been dismissed so swiftly? Unlikely.
Ryan Shawcross almost lost his place in the England squad as a result of yesterday’s events and was seen leaving the Britannia Stadium in tears. Yes, his challenge was atrocious, but he is not the only culprit this season.
The only difference was that he had the misfortune of his tackle causing serious damage and will be vilified for it.
High challenges where the boot makes contact with the shin are always at risk of breaking legs. Football needs to accept that the nature of the challenge and not the outcome should dictate punishment.
Serious foul play is the same offence, whether the players walks off the pitch or leaves it on a stretcher.
This article was written by Jon Naylor for Half Volley , the half sport, half science website.
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