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Joe Strange - A dark weekend for the Premier League

Published: 01 Mar 2010 - 08:06:46

Football might be regarded as the beautiful game, but Saturday's matches threw up arguably two of the ugliest scenes witnessed in Premier League history.

Aaron Ramsey's career-threatening injury at Stoke and the despicable behaviour of Chelsea fans towards Wayne Bridge exhibited a darker side of football that is sickening to see.

In the first top-flight game of the weekend, we finally got to see what we'd all been waiting for, the betrayed versus the betrayer, the innocent versus the guilty, Bridge versus John Terry.

With Bridge withdrawing himself from England selection on Thursday, it became clear that his relationship with Chelsea captain Terry had deteriorated to such an extent that they could no longer co-exist on the same team or away from football.

It therefore came as little surprise that the Manchester City left back refused to shake Terry's hand - and I for one was delighted to see him ignore the now former England skipper.

Why should Terry get any respect from Bridge when he showed him none by sleeping with the mother of his child?

The pair were not only team-mates at Chelsea for six years but were, by all accounts, very good friends outside of football.

I won't start slating Terry again, I did enough of that in my blog a few weeks ago when the news of his affair first broke - it's the Chelsea fans that deserve some stick after their behaviour on Saturday afternoon.

Yes it wasn't all the Blues fans wh abused Bridge through the entirety of the match, but judging by the volume of booing, it wasn't just a few fans that had come to the conclusion that he was suddenly the villain of the piece.

Of course Chelsea fans are going to back their own player, but what exactly has Bridge done to deserve the abuse he received?

He has acted with dignity, respect and integrity over the last few weeks, three qualities that JT clearly knows nothing about.

His decision to quit England might make the national squad slightly weaker in terms of ability but if he had gone to South Africa then the dressing room would have been full of divisions, awkwardness and a lack of team spirit.

The behaviour of Chelsea fans would have been ridiculous even if Bridge had no relationship with their club, but he was a loyal servant at Stamford Bridge for six seasons.

What about his winning goal against Arsenal in the Champions League quarter-final a few years back?

Or the seasons of good performances prior to Ashley Cole's arrival at the club? Football fans are fickle by nature, but Chelsea fans took it to a new level on Saturday.

I could rant about Terry and Chelsea all day long but there's one man, well more of a boy than a man, who deserves a special mention this week.

The incidents which unfolded at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday evening looked more accustomed to a horror movie rather than a game of football.

Ryan Shawcross' leg-breaking tackle on Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey was not only horrific for the terrible injury it inflicted on a youngster with such prodigious talent, but also for the effect it had and probably is continuing to have on Shawcross himself.

He left the field in tears after being sent-off and was clearly extremely shaken by the extent of Ramsey's injury.

He might have gone in hard but the ball was there to be won and he kept his studs down. There was no intent to inflict injury whatsoever, it was just unfortunate that the young Welshman's leg was planted as contact was made.

Ramsey had surgery yesterday and hopefully he will experience no complications in his rehabilitation, allowing him to continue a career which has promised so much after a string of impressive performances this season.

Bridge and Ramsey might have suffered mental and physical damage respectively but it's a testament to the power of football that wins for Man City and Arsenal will have undoubtedly numbed their pain, at least for a little while.

Get well soon Aaron.

READ JOE STRANGE EXCLUSIVELY AT FOOTBALL.CO.UK EVERY MONDAY

DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:joe strange
A product of Brighton University's prolific youth system, Joe Strange has boundless energy and the enviable ability to cover every blade of grass in his Monday blog. Joe has written for a variety of football websites and fanzines and is also a regular contributor to golf.co.uk. Despite being born and raised in Kent, 'Stranger' is a diehard Everton fan and counts his team's penalty shoot-out victory against Manchester United last season as his most memorable football moment. Follow Joe on Twitter @joe_strange.

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