Aaron Ramsey and Arsenal Victimized by “Getting Stuck In”

Ryan Shawcross had no intention of turning Aaron Ramsey‘s leg into putty when he went into his tackle yesterday.  Martin Taylor had no interest in seeing Eduardo’s leg shattered in two when he went studs up against him two years ago.  Dan Smith took no delight in the crunching sound of Abou Diaby’s ankle being fractured and dislocated when he went in late against him two years before that.   To assume otherwise would be to accuse them of being sociopathic maniacs.  I am sure they are not.

However, what I am sure of is that all those injuries are the result of a particularly pernicious facet of English football in general, and playing against Arsenal in particular – the art of “getting stuck in.”  This talent, which is occasionally also called “Playing a man’s game,””getting it ‘up em,” and “giving him something to remember with every challenge” is exalted in the English game.  To the rest of the world, it is nothing more than one player kicking the crap out of another.  With English football’s acceptance of this tactic, it is inevitable that players will occasionally find their lower leg bent where no hinge should exist.

Arsenal is quick team.  They like to move the ball quickly.  Their interior passing is among the best in the world.  Good teams combat that by pressuring Arsenal all over the pitch.  If you don’t give an Arsenal player time to see his passing options, Arsenal can turn the ball over and are vulnerable on the break.  That type of pressure and counter-attacking guided Chelsea and Manchester United to two comprehensive victories each over Arsenal this season, and those victories were fully deserved.

However, not every team in the league is Manchester United or Chelsea.  Some of them are Stoke, Birmingham and Sunderland.  They don’t have the quickness or the skill to be pressuring Arsenal from the front and constantly be challenging for the ball.  Their managers give their team a slightly different set of instructions.  Tackle hard boys!  Make Arsenal feel it with every touch!  Take fouls if you have to, but force Arsenal to pass the ball prematurely for fear of the hit they know is coming!  In short, “get stuck in!”  When a Stoke, Birmingham or Sunderland go into a match with that type of attitude, it is inevitable that a Ramsey, Eduardo or Diaby will, on occasion, leave the ground on stretcher.

Sadly, there is almost no chance of avoiding these types of catastrophes under the current English ethic of football.  Shawcross got his red card and will be suspended for a few games, but that will not change any team’s strategy.  Commentators will talk about how Shawcross is a “great lad” who is “absolutely gutted” and left the pitch in tears, as if anyone is arguing that Shawcross thought the whole thing was funny.  Two weeks from now, those same commentators will pontificate about how Arsenal is soft and can be bullied, which is just a sub-rosa way of saying that you can beat Arsenal if you can kick them hard enough.  Nobody will bother to opine that kicking a team off the pitch is not an acceptable form of football.

And of course many will say that the fact that three Arsenal players have had their legs shattered over the past four years is just a coincidence.

But it is not a coincidence.  What is striking is the similarity of all three breaks.  They all happened in the middle of the pitch.  They all happened just after the Arsenal player had passed the ball.  They all happened after their opponent went flying in and decided to leave his feet rather than give up on a lost challenge.  This is all the definition of “getting stuck in.”

Hopefully Aaron Ramsey will fully recover and continue his trajectory as one of the future stars of British football.  If he does fully recover, it will take years.  A year from now, there is the possibility that he will again be wearing an Arsenal uniform and playing the game.  However, four years after his injury, Diaby is just finally beginning to show the potential he had before his fracture, and Eduardo is still struggling two years later to recapture his pre-injury form.  With a break like that, both players have had to re-learn how to use their leg.  In the process, they tend to pick up a lot of other niggling injuries along the way.  Even with their return to first team action, both Diaby and Eduardo seem to have spent as much time on the training table as they have on the pitch.

In the meantime, do not be surprised to see some other player in England, possibly from Arsenal, suffer a similar type of injury.  Some player will be carted off.  The player who went in late will be gutted.  We will all talk about what a sickening scene it was.  Until the ethic of “getting stuck in” changes, this is a movie we will see many times again in the future.

45 thoughts on “Aaron Ramsey and Arsenal Victimized by “Getting Stuck In””

  1. Regarding Shawcross’ tackle, check out the replay and realize that it was a 50-50 tackle that Ramsey won and Shawcross entered late — making him kick the leg of Ramsey and not the ball. Ramsey’s leg broke, though, I have seen many similar tackles where the leg did not break. I think Ramsey (and Shawcross) were unlucky – it was a harsh red card for a 50-50 tackle and Ramsey’s leg should not have broken.

    Now, there is too much Arsenal pity talk here. They are not victims. They are unlucky at best. Yesterday was not about pretty passing or crunching tackles. Arsenal’s problem is not that “everyone hurts them” but that they are too small. They play with the shortest midfield and attack in the league and we all know about Newton’s laws’: They are light and they are small — any body that is larger and heavier will by fiat inflict greater harm on the Arsenal player than vice versa.

    Like Phil Jackson and the Bull’s realized in the early 90’s, you need to bulk up to challenge for titles. The same goes for Arsenal.

    1. What a stupid argument. That they are small. How many broken legs do the Barcelona players have?They are all small. And yes I have seen the tackle multiple times and everytime I see Ramsey being hit by shawcross studs up, late and with full force. What in his puny head he didn’t get that all those added together might hurt someone?

      I can’t believe so many people are defending shawcross? What he did was criminal and might end Ramsey’s career. Shame on you all for defending such cowardly acts.

      Arsenal don’t need pity for the likes of people who are willing to immune showcroft off all blame, they have done pretty well without that pity. No red cards all season should tell people something. Arsenal will win it for Ramsey this season and will do it the Arsenal way!

      1. You must have seen a slightly different incident to me because there is no way that Shawcross went in ‘studs up’. In my mind it was a 50/50 gone horribly wrong, Shawcross trying to boot the ball but getting outdone for pace. It’s still a red card, no debate in my mind because it still constitutes reckless play.

    2. Surely the definition of a 50/50 is that they have an equal chance of getting the ball. Shawcross was late therefore not a 50/50. The great tacklers in the past won 50/50s and even 30/70s but by tackling the ball and keeping their tackling foot in contact with the ground. If this had happened, Ramsey would have been unceremoniously dumped on the floor, Arsenal freekick and Shawcross Yellow card, but by swinging his foot using the full pivot of his knee to exaggerate the force of the tackle , going over the ball (because he missed it) and kicking the standing leg at the weakest point on the bone (point furthest away from the joints) we have a nasty injury. I come back to the fact that if Rooney or Gerrard had suffered the exact same injury in the exact same circumstances, those “neutrals” wouldn’t have seen a 50/50.

  2. THIS was just an unlucky 50-50 that led to one player’s leg being broken.

    Check out Gallas’ “tackle” in the Bolton game if you want to see a really vicious tackle.

    Same old Arsene bullshit, calling for Shawcross to be banned for longer than three games for a 50-50 tackle. Watch an Arsenal player do the exact same and hear him say that he didn’t see in incident. Absolutely no class.

    1. First of all let me say that you are an idiot. Gallas was a bad tackle and he was summarily demonized by the media. But will Shawcross get anything but the typical “O he didn’t mean to”, “poor english goon” bullsht? No. He left his feet in too late because he was going to stick it to him. Did he mean to break his leg? No.

      If I drive a car down the road one day going as fast as I can and hit a kid I can have people come to my defense and say o well he didn’t want to kill a kid it just happened that he was being reckless that time. That would change the fact that I killed someone.

      Furthermore if this happened to Rooney the media would be calling for the tackler’s head. But it can happen to Arsenal three times because idiots like you think its cute when the slow english boys kick the shit out of the foreigners.

  3. “Get in to them” is a frequent shout from the stands as well as chants at some grounds. While they’re not endorsing severe tackles, the fans are encouraging their players to play physical and get the ball off the opposition by all means (lawful ones that is).

    The Gaffer

    1. There’s a link on this thread that the club has already received & are looking into the serious allegations made. Whilst they don’t originate from this site you may want to remove it.

        1. There’s a link to a blog lower down made by chopper, it’s the blog that they’ve picked up on. Just thought it may help to disassociate the site with it any way. It’s drivel but it may get messy.

  4. If it had been an English player from another club who had his leg broken, Rooney for example, then maybe their would be more of an outcry about this.

  5. This is the Gallas tackle to which comment 2 refers: http://twitpic.com/zv125

    It wasn’t a dangerous tackle.

    The commenter and his ilk are a problem for the beautiful game. To say a tackle which has left a prodigous 19 year old with a grievous leg break, and his career under threat, was not dangerous, borders on insanity.

    1. Can you explain this to someone (like me) who hasn’t seen many games (and never played above schoolyard games himself)?

      Is it not possible for there to be serious injuries that results from a normal course of play? These are top athletes, very quick and powerful, and it seems that sometimes things will happen in the split second that will result in serious injuries.

      I’ve watched the replay several times, it seems like it happened very fast. Why was Shawcross at fault, and what could/should he have done differently? He deflected the ball, gave it a touch, and was chasing after it when Ramsey came on the ball quickly from about 1 or 2 o’clock (from Shawcross’s perspective). On the replay, it looks like it was Shawcross’s plant foot that did the damage. It was a very bang-bang play, it seems like there wasn’t time for Shawcross to have done much differently.

      1. What could he have done differently?


        Don’t go diving into a tackle. There was no need for it.

        There were a number of things wrong with the tackle. He lunged. He went in with too much force, and his tackling foot was too high.

        If you look at the laws of the game, the document, there are illustrations of what constitutes a dangerous tackle (law 12).

        The graphical illustrations show what Shawcross did wrong, and show that the rules of the game are valid in trying to prevent tackles like Shawcross’ by labelling them dangerous play.

  6. Shawcross did not say “I never saw him. It was an accident.” He saw him and he left his feet. His excuse is that he “never meant to injure another professional.”

    This type of thing will not stop until there are penalties to pay. Stoke owes Ramsey and Arsenal. They should pay. Shawcross should have his career sidelined just like Ramsey had his sidelined.

    Tackles like this will continue otherwise.

    1. Brad, You’re just bitter because it’s an Arsenal player, if it was a Man Utd player you would be singing a different tune. It’s plain to see that this was a 50 50 ball that both players went for, Ramsey and Shawcross both at the same time, just because Ramsey got the ball a split second before Shawcross it doesn’t mean that Shawcross was late. Stoke nor Shawcross owe Arsenal or Ramsey anything apart from an apology, which has already happened.

  7. This is the way British football is, always has been and hopefully always will be. It is a full contact, physical sport played at high speed – people will always get hurt and unfortunately occasionally careers may be damaged. This is the risk that all players take when they play football, if they don’t think the risk is acceptable they shouldn’t be out there.

  8. I think this is right – especially the point that this is not about Shawcross. I don’t care about him. He’s not a victim, but he’s also not the problem. I think it was a bad challenge (there is a difference between a ball being 50-50 and the challenge for the ball), but not particularly bad. It is certainly true that there was a bit of bad luck involved.

    But for those making that objection – that’s precisely the point. This type of strategy for playing Arsenal increases the odds of this happening when coupled with a bad bit of luck. The bad luck is not controllable – the tackles are. (And for the point about size, these tackles have to do with the combination of forces from the tackle and a counter-pressure elsewhere on the leg – plus, Diaby is not a small player).

    In most sports (including both soccer and American football), there is a schizophrenic attitude towards violence. On one hand, it is encouraged as a mark of the physical, manly game (which has long roots in English football, see Inverting the Pyramid), while on the other hand, we deplore the violence. The result is that when a player makes a bad tackle without consequences, people tend to react very harshly against the player. Yet, when the player causes terrible harm, these very same pundits leap to the defense of the game and player (see Gallas vs Shawcross). I take it that these tackles show the problems endemic in the violence of the game – and to criticize Shawcross is to criticize that entire physical aspect of the game.

    There are plenty of tactics teams can employ against superior opposition. There is no inherent flaw in long-ball football, or putting ten men behind the ball when the situation calls for it. There is a problem with violence, and it is time that the FA did something to bring it under control. Pundits have been encouraging this against Arsenal for years, but they are not the only team subject to it.

    It isn’t Shawcross. It’s an entire ethos that thinks physical, violent play is good for the game. It’s only under that model that we can see incidents like Ramsey’s, Eduardo’s and Diaby’s as mere bad luck. Bad injuries happen in football, but by bringing the physicality of the game under control, they will happen less often.

    1. That is an excellent point about the tackling player being condemned when his foul causes no damage but somehow defended when he causes grave damage.

      Michael Ballack has virtually no defenders today after his tackle on Carlos Tevez, which thankfully does not seem to have done much damage. Meanwhile Shawcross and Martin Taylor both had some excuses made for them after their tackles which led to serious injuries (granted the bulk of the talk was against Taylor and seems to be against Shawcross too).

  9. Great article.

    Some of the comments above are a bit disturbing to be honest. Yes, unfortunate injuries happen in sports and a career threatening injury can happen at any time. Three times in less than five years seems to be a bit more than an anomaly and just can’t be classified as part of the game. I can’t believe for a second that if these injuries had happened to your squad you guys would be saying the same thing. While I have only been watching the EPL for four years it has been said hundreds of times on Setanta, FSC and Sky Sports that a team needs to “kick” Arsenal or get “stuck-in” to be effective against the Gunners. Perhaps Arsenal need to be more physical at times or change their tactics to overcome physical play but these three injuries have been horrendous and over the top.

    Do I think Shawcross intended to injure Ramsey? No I don’t. I read he is a stand-up guy but does that mean in the heat of battle his emotions can’t get out of control? We have no idea what goes through these players head during a heated match.

    I do believe the suspension rule needs to be looked at for incidents like these. I don’t mean over the top like the player should be suspended as long as the player is out, though. In my view (and others), nothing will be done until one of England’s finest get seriously injured…and let me be clear I don’t hope that happens to prove my point.

  10. funny that this dude has a history of injuring tackles against other players but everyone says “he’s not that type of player”

    right – and John Terry didn’t mean to cheat on his wife with his teammate’s girl.

    his history of recklessness, Stoke’s history of employing Allardycism, and the oft repeated media mantra of “kicking Arsenal is the only way to beat them” are not coincidences in this incident. And it’s bound to happen again because the FA don’t care and neither does anyone else.

  11. great article. mark my words in 10 years time the premier league will be on its knees because all the top players will have left and all that will be left is mediocre english players because all the flair players will be off to spain or italy, because it is about playing football out there and not about RUGBY

  12. Not to rehash but the tackle on Diaby was totally intentional. Almost last minute of play, Diaby cruising up the side, score way out of hand and Smith went in with total intention to injure. Ramsey’s injury was different in the intent, but the execution was pitiful. This crap of playing the ‘English’ way! What nonsense. There’s no need to slide everywhere all the time. If you’re a decent professional you can effectively play the game without lunging and leaving your feet every time you THINK you have an opportunity to gain the ball. Great positioning is something that the so called English style of play doesn’t have. Give me a smart defender that positions himself well and doesn’t leave his feet any time over these thugs who love to clip players.

  13. I was at the match – the above article says the challenge came in after Ramsey had ‘passed the ball’ – which is totally untrue.
    As replays show Ramsey’s foot was on the ground, with his ankle bent, (as if he had jammed it into the turf or was backing out of the tackle) before Shawcross accidently made contact as he was attempting to kick the ball.

  14. 1) I hope all football players playing in the English game learn from this.

    2)It is great to display commitment and passion in a football match however it MUST be accompanied by INTELLIGENCE.

    3)I speaking as a player that plays in league 1 see these kind of challenges week in week out, but we’re told to “get stuck in” and “its a mans game” which is the exact point “MANS Game” not a “THUGS Game” THUGS DONT USE THEIR BRAINS to win they use BRaun.

    4) how many broken legs and abruptly ended careers will it take for players & managers to realise this. only positive is that Ramsey has the best staff around him to help him recover to his best. I just feel for the players in lower leagues who didnt and dont have the same resources.

    with that said..



  15. Great article!

    Its unbelievable that some people can have so much hate for Arsenal that they would call this whinging. Those saying that are you serious? I wonder if this would be your attitude if it was your leg or one of your children? I mean this us disgraceful and just shows you the gutter in which humans have descended. What a shame.

    You cannot call a team that has had three players suffer this fate cry babies, within 5 years mind you. How is that even sensible?

    The guy went in like a maniac, all be it to get the ball but to aslo send a message which his manager has been telling them to do all week.

    You know what i am not even go to try to make sense to people who MUST be challenged as far as simple common sense in is concerned.

    Fact is Ramsey is out with a broken leg, as was Ramsey as was Diaby and if you cant see something is wrong with that you may need asn excorsism or something because thats just evil.

    May Jesus help Ramsey!


  16. You read this and seem to think that its the first time its ever happened. For those of us with longer memories we – Stoke City – had an ex Arsenal player John Devine whose career was ended by such a tackle. It was a terrible injury but accidental.

    In more recent times Rory Delap’s debut for us saw his leg broken in two places by a 50/ 50 tackle. Sickening, but it happens.

    What really galls me is that Wenger comes up with the comment that it such incidents aren’t coincidental. The only conclusion that you can draw from that is that it was a deliberate and premeditated act of violence which was designed to injure in which our player knew, by his actions, would influence the whole nature of the game.


    I heard the ‘pop’ of the leg go from where I was. It was sickening, as all such injuries are, and I hope Ramsey recovers fully to have a long and fruitful career as befits his undoubted talent. Nonetheless, those that think this was anything other than strong – if late – tackle really need a reality check. It wasn’t from behind, it wasn’t studs up and it was for the ball when the tackle was initiated – just how he could have pulled out at that speed is beyond me.

    It happens to every team every now and again- its unfortunate but with the game played at the speed it is in this country its always likely that such injuries will occur.

    1. “Just how could he have pulled out at that speed is beyond me”

      Say no more……

      Going in too “fast”, too “late” (your words not mine)

      Reckless and out of control.

      In Sunday League, with amateur players, you would expect that players could get into a situation where they lose control of an attempted tackle, but we are talking about the highest echelons of the sport. There is no room for recklessness. A professional player should always be in control.

      1. It was out of control with unecessary force, plain and simple.

        Did the kid mean to do it? no, but he meant to get stuck in. Thats the damn problem, thats why people fly into tackles like maniacs.

        If the PL changes so thats it is more skillbased, your 3 Lions just may win something.

        Trust me, England aint wining jack this world cup. They just dont have the skill required to do it though they are being hyped up.

    2. It happens to every team does it? can you name one team that has had 3 players almost have career ending injuries in the last few years.

      Which other team do people constantly set out to “get stuck in” against. Which other team do you hear that said about from the media to the players? please tell me.

      The tackle was wreckless, you say Strong, its was strong and uncontrolled. You do realize that this guy has made a history of injuring players dont you? I guess they were all just strong tackles also and coincidence.

      Wenger is not saying that players are trying to break peoples legs, he is saying its a mindset that has been driven into players on how to play Arsenal. Kick them off the blasted park and dont give them time on the ball. cave man style.

      Dont allow bias to blur your vision. This is terrible and every time someone comes out with a statement like yours its as if you ok this nasty, rash, uneccesary behaviour.

  17. What is this shit, have you lot ever played the game? There was no studs up, he hit the leg with his laces, you would never try to break someone’s leg like that. If you want to break a leg, you go foot in the air, studs first and this was nothing like that.
    This wouldn’t have even been a red card if the break hadn’t have happened. The ref wasn’t even interested in giving a card until he saw the damage that had been caused. This was a 50-50 and Ramsey came off second best.
    If you want to see dirty, check out liverpool vs Everton.

  18. People say that humans have a common ancestor with apes, I always thought it was a load of crap but the defense of this tackle has made me start to question myself.

    Some of the comments are unbelievable!

  19. Does anyone remember that Eboue tackle on Terry was it? I mean you would think that Eboue broke his two legs and arms. You have a players with a broken leg and its the speed of the game. What a load of bullcrap.

    what a primitive mindset.


  20. to imply that there is some sort of conspiracy to break arsenal player’s legs is just rediculous.

    it’s just coincidence. anyone who thinks otherwise needs to quit drinking the red kool-aid

    1. hah! to imply that anyone was saying that there was a conspiracy to “break arsenal player’s legs” is the highest of strawmen. And you are not alone. Tony Pulis and every talking head apologist has trotted out this line.

      It’s not a conspiracy to break legs, it’s a conspiracy to bully and excessively foul which, when taken too far, results in serious injury. As the example was posed – when I drive recklessly, I don’t intend to hit anyone. But if I DO hit someone I can’t get out of it by saying “I’m not the type of person who goes out to hit someone.” Consequences of actions, people. Either learn to tackle properly or don’t attempt.

  21. Players have to realize, and that realization HAS to be enforced by referees, that reckless play can lead to injury and in some cases SEVERE injury. The point is that the PROBABILITY of a severe injury increases with reckless play. Its not rocket science. If you want skilled players to remain in the game (and stay in the Prem, like Fabregas) then the skilled player cannot be constantly exposed to reckless play which eventually will lead to an unacceptable outcome. Frankly I think Fabregas, who is constantly targeted by managers who seek to disrupt Arsenals rythm, is almost certain now to depart for Spain. Why should he stay in the Prem if he is not protected?

    1. Excellent point. I believe it is not just Fabregas. Alex Ferguson was complaining all the time about Christiano Ronaldo not being protected enough. And a typical reaction was that Ronaldo is a sissy boy who needs to toughen up. I’m just wondering how much being targeted on the field and a danger of career ending injury contributed to his decision to move to Spain. No matter if you liked Christiano or not you have to admit that EPL and United are not the same without him.

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