Let's get physical, Arsene
Aaron Ramsey's injury on Saturday is not something even Wayne Bridge would wish on John Terry - well, probably - but the reaction of Arsene Wenger is as wrong as it is predictable. The Arsenal manager insisted after the win at Stoke that it was no coincidence that three of his players had sustained serious injuries in the past five years. Sorry Arsene, but it more than likely is. Ryan Shawcross' tackle at the Britannia Stadium was misjudged and late. But despite what some Gunners will have you believe, it was not malicious. I don't know that as fact, no-one except Shawcross does, but I believe Ramsey's injury was the result of an unfortunate and ill-timed swipe that had the ball as it's only target. The sad fact is, these things happen. That may be a clich?but the reason it's a clich?s because it's true. Whenever two opponents go for the same ball, the possibility is always there that one of those players may get hurt. The overwhelming majority of footballers, from the Premier League to the parks, understand this. Even if he won't let on, I think even Wenger understands that the physicality of football is part of what makes it the beautiful game. It might not sit comfortably with the purist in the Arsenal boss, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. For many, including myself, witnessing or winning a hard tackle gets the juices flowing as much as neat one-two or back-heel. I pray to God the game never loses that. While that does remain the case, though, there will always be collateral damage. Just as they have done for the last century, players will get injured. Some seriously and some may even have their careers ended. It's as sad as it is inevitable. Of course, there is a line to be crossed. Sometimes, a player does intentionally try to 'do' another, and when that does happen, no punishment is too strong. Gorka Pintado's assault on Robbie Savage last week in my opinion was one of those rare occasions. Shawcross on Ramsey was not. Wenger claims his side are targeted because the theory goes that they cannot handle the physical stuff. He's probably right. But rather than plead for protection, it's up to him and his players to confront the challenge that has faced many, many teams over the ages. His previous sides were able to take it and give it out in spades, while some of his current players have shown they aren't afraid of getting their retaliation in first. There's very little wrong with that, and if Wenger embraced the physical aspects of the game and encouraged his players to do the same, he might just have another title-winning team on his hands.
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