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The Day When Arsene Wenger's Boys Became Men

In the Jewish faith, the act of becoming a man at thirteen is a huge step. Standing before your family, friends, and the community as a whole, you are recognized as a full member of the community. For me as a Jew, that is the moment that I became a man. For most of you, you can probably remember the moment that you became a man. Whether it was your first car, your first apartment or house, or your first kiss, that moment sticks out clear as day. For those of us who consider ourselves to be Gooners, we have found that moment.

As Arsenal battled the first hour against Stoke on Saturday evening UK time, our steady dominance was overshadowed by a horrible incident happening to one of our most promising young players. While Ryan Shawcross went sliding at Aaron Ramsey, the look on Thomas Vermaelen’s face said it all. We have seen this before. Arsenal gaining in confidence, the league title in sight, overwhelmed by a horrifying injury. But when it appeared that the season was about to fade away, another disappointing game in a teasing, disappointing season, I saw something that I hadn’t seen in years out of the Arsenal.

Gael Clichy, having his best game in months, was trying to rally his teammates. Sol Campbell, the old legend, was slapping his teammates on the back, yelling “let’s go!” at them. And then there was Cesc. Even though the game restarted slowly after the injury, it was clear that Arsenal were not going to let Stoke get the best of them. They were going to attack, and solve the hex that was Stoke. Responsible for two crucial goals and his signal to Tony Pulis were clear as day, it was clear who was in charge today. Cesc Fabregas, for whatever his faults at times, is consistently the best player for Arsenal. Should we win the league, he should be the player of the year. Now, while I am done marveling in how this team grew up today, you probably want me to comment on the biggest story of the day: the injury to Aaron Ramsey.

Here is my question about this injury. How is it that the FA allows these things to continue? The way the FA currently operates, there is no downside to attempting to injure players. In the long run, the loss of a Ryan Shawcross or Martin Taylor for three games will not be much as compared to the complete decimation of someone’s career. There is a simple way to stop these tackles from occurring.

  • First, when one of these injuries occur, the player who commits the injury should be suspended for as long as the injured player is out. Not just from the Premier League, but from all competitions.
  • During this time, half of the offending players wages should be donated to charity.
  • The club of the offending player should pay the entire medical bill for the injured player.

Only when you have severe financial sanctions for nasty challenges like this one will clubs like Stoke and Birmingham City think twice about trying to kick us around. As long as the FA allows teams to do this, bright young talents like Ramsey will continue to get injured.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Arsenal grew up tonight. When it would have been easy to fold and let the season end with a whimper, Arsenal have found that they no longer have a team of boys. Tonight in Stoke-on-Trent, as the remaining Arsenal players huddled together on the pitch, it was clear that Arsene Wenger’s boys have finally become men.


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