Aaron Ramsey was recovering from surgery to mend an horrific double legbreak as Arsene Wenger claimed that his new generation of Arsenal stars are in danger of being 'destroyed'.
Ramsey was taken to hospital on Saturday night following a second-half challenge from Stoke's Ryan Shawcross that shattered the tibia and fibula in his right leg.
The 19-year-old Wales midfielder had a corrective operation to stabilise the leg and pin the bones back together, and was kept in overnight before travelling back to London with Arsenal's team doctor Gary O'Driscoll on Sunday.
Enlarge Shattered: Arsenal players and Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross (far right) look stunned as Aaron Ramsey lies in agony on the pitch and is comforted by Glenn Whelan (No 6)
Although the early indications are that Ramsey will be out for upto eight months, the break is higher up his leg than a similar injurysuffered two years ago by team-mate Eduardo, who had the addedcomplication of a dislocated ankle.
Stoke put out a statement from Shawcross, conscious of the criticism Birmingham incurred when they failed to react to Martin Taylor'schallenge on Eduardo.
Spot on: Fabregas gives the Gunners the lead at the Britannia Stadium
It stopped short of an apology, with Stoke and their player adamantthat his attempt to win the ball in the 66th minute was mistimed ratherthan malicious, even though referee Peter Walton gave him a red card.Replays appear to support their case, but that will be of littleconsolation to Wenger. Two years ago the Arsenal boss had called for Taylor to be kicked out of football before quickly retracting his comments.
He was more restrained on Saturday but could still not hide hisanger after Ramsey joined Eduardo and Abou Diaby on the Arsenal list ofplayers who have had bad breaks.
Wenger said: 'Today in midfield we had Nasri, Fabregas, Ramsey,Eboue - an average age of 21. Up front, Bendtner is 20 years old. Whatthese guys do, at that age, is remarkable. To handle the game like theyhandle it. But of course if you destroy them, they might not befootball players.
Tears: Ryan Shawcross of Stoke City is consoled by team mate Thomas Sorensen as he leaves the pitch after being sent off for a challenge on Aaron Ramsey
'What is most terrible for me is that Ramsey starts his career witha double operation and you never know what kind of consequences thiswill have on his physical side of the game and his psychological sideof the game. It's just scandalous.
'He's not the first player to get an horrendous injury and it'salways a coincidence. I don't believe in coincidences. This tackle washorrendous. It was not acceptable. In my time as manager here, none ofmy players ever broke the leg of anybody.'
He stoops to conquer: Danny Pugh puts Stoke ahead
Shawcross left the pitch in tears and was driven home by his mother.The incident overshadowed his first senior England call-up, and in hisstatement he insisted: 'There was absolutely no malice in thechallenge. I would never, ever go out to hurt a fellow professional.
'I am deeply upset that Aaron has suffered such a bad injury and mythoughts are with him. I would like to send him my best wishes for aspeedy recovery.'
Agony: Aaron Ramsey has suffered a suspected broken leg
MATCH FACTS STOKE CITY: Sorensen 6; Wilkinson 5, Faye 6 (Collins 60mins, 5), Shawcross 6, Huth 5; Delap 7, Whelan 6, Whitehead 5(Lawrence 78, 5), Pugh 6; Sidibe 5, Fuller 6 (Tuncay 80). Sent off: Shawcross.
ARSENAL: Almunia 6; Sagna, Vermaelen 7, Campbell 6, Clichy 6; Eboue 7 (Walcott 75, 6), Fabregas 8, Song 6, Ramsey 6 (Rosicky 70, 7), Nasri 6 (Eduardo 84); Bendtner 7.Booked: Song.
Referee: Peter Walton.
Man of the match: Cesc Fabregas.
Stoke boss Tony Pulis hit back at his Arsenal rival, insisting: 'Iknow my players better than Wenger. I wouldn't give tuppence for hisopinions in respect of Ryan as a person because he doesn't know thekid.'
Danny Pugh put Stoke ahead and Nicklas Bendtner equalised beforeRamsey's injury. Late goals by Cesc Fabregas, from the spot, and ThomasVermaelen secured the win.
Wenger, whose side trail Chelsea by three points, believes Ramsey'ssetback could be the making of them. 'It will be tight to the end butit gives us one more reason to be strong, united and to fight until thefinish to do it for Aaron,' he said.
Adebayor shocker as Man City striker admits: I didn't want to leave ArsenalRamsey has successful op but Arsenal ace faces long spell out after leg breakSorry Shawcross reveals Ramsey regret after horror tackle crocks aceVIDEO: Arsenal boss Wenger hits out at Ryan Shawcross 'horror tackle'ARSENAL FC