WARNING: IF YOU ARE A STOKE CITY FAN EASILY OFFENDED BY READING ABOUT AN INFAMOUS TACKLE BY YOUR DEFENDER RYAN SHAWCROSS AND ARE LIKELY TO COME ON MY TWITTER AND ABUSE ME, STOP READING NOW!
Its almost a year since prosperous Arsenal & Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey had his leg broken after a malicious challenge by Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross, I remember watching it on TV after eating my tea, and turning away in disgust when I saw his foot dangling down. I said the words “Shawcross has cost us the title” – of couse, indirectly it was the game against Barcelona when Gallas, Arshavin and Fabregas were struck down injured that ultimately seemed to cost us the title. However, after what happened in 2008 with Eduardo, I wouldn’t put the tackle passed it.
There were two things I took from that day, the leadership of Sol Campbell and captain Cesc Fabregas with that huddle at the end of a emotional 3-1 win and the words after the game. When for 115 minutes plus adrenaline and emotion is pumping through your veins, seeing a horror challenge for the third time in four years to one of your most valuable future stars is very aggravating and upsetting. So, I never took the comments of it being a “disgusting” tackle to heart that much, I knew he would not go back and retract his words (which I think he did for the Eduardo one) but I did not expect it to cause a fuss, but to Tony Pulis, it did.
At first, I respected Pulis’ comments, they seemed fair, but after watching them again, seems like he was defending Ryan Shawcross more than he was sympathising with Aaron Ramsey. First of all, he never apologised on behalf of his player, yes, he said the basic “Are condolences to Aaron”, but there was never a sorry, there was no “It was a stupid challenge, it should never happen in Football, we’re sorry, Ryan’s sorry and we wish Ramsey all the best”. Take into account the Wilshere tackle from this season on Zigic, a tackle which (easily could have) didn’t break Zigic’s leg, Wenger straight away apologised and said his player deserved the sending off, to be fair, Wenger did (like Pulis) defend Wilshere (which is an instinctive move for any manager) however, Wilshere has not been reckless since, unlike Shawcross who’s been sent off twice already this year and ranks with 3 others as a player with the most number of reds (along admittedly with Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny (who was sent off for 2 yellows for nothing fouls and bringing down a player 30-40 yards from goal as last man)).
Pulis was also quick to say Shawcross was not malicious, a player already notorious for breaking Francis Jeffer’s leg and attacking Emmanuel Adebayor off the pitch. I don’t buy into all the “Shawcross cried” crap either, he cries off the pitch then later says he wont change his style, very quick to turn on the waterworks when a player lies in hospital with the chance of never playing again, but you don’t mind doing it again.
I’m not against tackling, Wenger’s not against tackling, Arsenal are not against tackling, we are against clumsy kicks to the leg on the half-way line like your Johnny Wilkinson.
To my final point, Stoke fans trying to get #dirtyarsenal as a TT, this is why I don’t like ignorant fans, firstly, the Fair Play League (won by Arsenal several times) is down to a inconsistent refereeing, referee’s differ, some will give a team a foul, some wont, some warrant it as a yellow, others don’t, others send the player off, others don’t. Just because Arsenal have got X amount of fouls doesn’t mean a team above them have tacked more fairly, they may have got away with it. Anyone taking the Fair Play league stats all to heart needs to compare the way teams play.
Overall, I and many other Arsenal fans don’t hate Stoke, the place, the people or the club, its the ignorant fans who sound like they accept Ryan’s tackle as just a kick to the shins and because he plays for that pompous pass-happy team Arsenal he somehow had it coming. Like if you see a middle-class man get mugged in the street you don’t do anything because you believe he’s done something that warrants him getting beaten up and having to drink through straws. I’m sure (and hope) most Stoke City supporters are lovely people who actually wouldn’t mind seeing their team keep it on the deck a bit more and actually hated seeing the Shawcross tackle. Its just that minority (and I hope its a minority) that keep me thinking twice about going to do that Sports Journalism course at Staffordshire University.