Arsenal produced, arguably, their most impressive away performance of the season at the Britannia Stadium to move within three points of the league leaders, Chelsea.
However, sadly, the game will be remembered for the horrific leg-breaking challenge by Stoke's Ryan Shawcross on the Welsh teenager Aaron Ramsey.
The Arsenal youngster suffered a compound fracture of his right leg, and was taken to the hospital after several minutes of treatment on the pitch.
Television producers, understandably, opted not to show close-up replays of the incident.
The injury was so bad that players from both sides were left visibly upset as the medics administered emergency treatment and gave Ramsey oxygen. At least two players were physically ill on the pitch.
It was Eduardo and Birmingham all over again.
Shawcross was sent off, immediately after the horror tackle, and quickly left the pitch in tears after witnessing the terrible consequence of his wild challenge.
Arsenal's manager, Arsene Wenger, was absolutely furious with the tackle. "I didn't see many bad tackles in the game but this one was horrendous. '
'To lose a player of that quality at 19 years of age when he is just starting his career is just horrendous.'
'I am just shocked because that is not football for me. It is not what I like in the game."
Reckless or Malicious?
This question always comes up and asked frequently after such incidents, but it's irrelevant—a smokescreen—because either way, Ramsey still ends up with a badly broken leg.
The question that should be asked is: Why do these tackles keep happening in the Premier League, and especially, to Arsenal players?
And as Wenger has pointed out, this scenario is all too familiar. "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."
Back in 2006, Abou Diaby, broke his leg in a horribly late tackle by Dan Smith of Sunderland.
The folks in the media barely raised an eye-lid and he was out for about a year. As far as they were concerned, he was French and so it didn't really matter.
Then in 2008, Eduardo Da Silva was on the receiving end of an even worse challenge by Birmingham's Martin Taylor, which resulted in another horrific leg break.
Both Diaby and Eduardo were unable to play football competitively for a year each.
Ramsey's injury must've been especially traumatic for Eduardo as he had to witness his own worst nightmare all over again.
Was It A Red Card?
This is another stupid and pointless question that I've heard some people ask here on the Bleacher Report.
You don't need extensive analysis of the video to see that the tackle was late, reckless, and dangerous. Thus, the Stoke defender deserved the red card.
This is what i saw on the video, regarding the tackle:
1) Ryan Shawcross lost the ball in the halfway line, a dangerous area for a defender to lose the ball, especially against a quick counter-attacking team like Arsenal;
2) He realised that a counter-attack could be on, if Ramsey gets to the ball first, and therefore, decided to take action;
3) He ran forward with speed, but Ramsey was too quick and simply nicks the ball just in front of the defender. All this is happening on the deck;
4) Then Shawcross basically whacked Ramsey with the laces part of his boot, and connects with the shin area of the Arsenal player.
Now I'm not saying that Shawcross wanted to deliberately hurt Ramsey, but i do think he wanted to stop him legally or illegally (i.e by fouling him).
He was implementing—with disastrous consequences—the outdated old school philosophy: "If you don't get the ball...Get the man."
This mentality was probably drummed into him from a young age as defender: You have to be physical, you have to be tough, you must get in the face of the opponent and let him know you're there.
And if this results in few rash tackles, then so be it.
So why does this happen to Arsenal?
The reasons are diverse and complex, but basically teams adopt physical tactics against the Gunners because they simply cannot cope with their technical passing football.
Teams believe that they can bully Arsenal out of games and "kick them off the park," as they say.
They say that they'll only win games against Arsenal by adopting a physical approach to the match. A euphemism, when playing the gunners, for kicking lumps out the likes of Fabregas and Arshavin.
And this myth, that Arsenal don't like it physical, is perpetuated by the media time and time again; and the result of this is what happened yesterday at Stoke.
The truth is this: Nobody likes getting kicked around and this goes for all the teams. I'm all for controlled aggression, but when players go over the ball and make rash, dangerous challenges without any care, then they are braking the law in my eyes.
This physical approach, outside the law, is what Wenger mentioned only few weeks back: “I am always absolutely amazed that people get away with it. When we get kicked and lose the game, the question I get from the press is 'Oh, you did not fancy that’. But nobody is upset or shocked by it. When we are kicked they find that it is absolutely all right."
Finally, to all the people who feel sorry for Ryan Shawcross because he showed remorse for crying on the pitch; please, spare a thought for the guy who actually broke his leg in two places and is in hospital.
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