The shock of Aaron Ramsey’s injury seemed to have had many different effects on many different people. First, the effect it has had on Rambo himself, his season and most likely a huge chunk of next season is over. Coming at a time when he was just breaking into the first team, this could have a major impact on his career. We can only wish him well and hope that not only he recovers from the injury but that he can challenge for a place in the team again. Eduardo is an example of how it is possible to come back from such an injury, but also of how it can take a long time to regain both confidence and form.
Then there is the effect on the Arsenal team. We saw the effect that Eduardo’s injury had on the squad approximately two years ago. Not only did we go on to draw the game, dropping vital points, but Gallas’ sulk seemed to substantiate claims that he wasn’t fit to captain the club and our confidence took a major knock. What followed was a complete collapse in our title challenge. The Stoke game was different though. In that game something seemed to happen to the squad, it was as if they left the pitch with a different mentality to when they walked out for the second half. Just as Eduardo’s injury ended our season, Ramsey’s injury could have inspired our players.
Too often this season we have played as if it didn’t matter, as if there was always the next game, the next season. I think a few realised that it can all be taken away so quickly. The reaction we gave after that incident was something special. Not only did we go on to win the game convincingly, but we showed the type of togetherness that has not been apparent for years. Wenger has talked about spirit in most of his post match interviews this season, but I have seen little evidence of it until this game. Gallas has tried to manufacture group hugs before games in the past, but the huddle at the end of the Stoke game was real. The leadership shown by Sol Campbell in particular, but also by the captain Cesc Fabregas, was something that hasn’t been seen since Vieira’s departure. If we do go on to win the league, then this incident could be the catalyst – and it would be fitting if we won the title in Rambo’s honour.
Also there is the effect that the incident will have had on Ryan Shawcross, the guilt of doing such a thing to a fellow professional. Shawcross has to deal with that, he left the pitch in tears. Initially many people were defending him, but now, particularly amongst Arsenal supporters, there is anger. As when Martin Taylor injured Eduardo, people want action, they want longer bans, they want changes to rules, they want Shawcross to be made a scapegoat. I would suggest that there is a difference between what Taylor did and what Shawcross did.
Ryan Shawcross is a quality player, Taylor is not, that is the main difference between the two incidents. Shawcross regularly goes in ‘hard’, but 9 times out of 10 wins the ball. That is a skill, especially in this day and age when usually any sliding tackle is given as a free kick and even a yellow card. On the other one out of ten occasions someone can get hurt. Taylor on the other hand just thinks because other players are better than him that he can kick them (which is what I used to do when I was a kid). He regularly goes in with no intention of getting the ball. Also, the reaction was different from Stoke to that of Birmingham. Birmingham responded in a way that suggested we somehow ‘deserved it’. Stoke and Shawcross were full of remorse, Birmingham and Taylor were not.
To those who still want retribution and changes to the laws of the game, be careful what you ask for. To anyone who thinks the game is still too violent, buy this video (VHS I’m afraid) to see how much the game has changed in the last 20 years:
To those who are complaining about the mentality of some teams who claim that ‘Arsenal don’t like it up them’ and that ‘the only way to beat Arsenal is to kick them’, I would just like to turn the clock back about 20 years. Nobody was complaining on Liverpool’s behalf when Wimbledon beat them in the 1988 FA Cup Final by doing just that. Nobody was complaining when George Graham’s side including Adams, Bouldy and co won titles with that approach to games. As the video linked to above shows, football has come a long way since those days. I can’t imagine how some of today’s fans would react to some of those challenges, when not even a free kick was given. Cesc’s tackle from behind yesterday, where he actually won the ball but a freekick was given, is one example of how some of the skills of defending have already been watered down. Please don’t let these incidents turn what was once a great physical game into a non-contact sport.
Lets not dwell on this injury too long. It is sad, I am gutted for Aaron, but moaning about tackles or underhand tactics will not help him to heal any quicker. The best thing we can do is go on and win the league in his honour. I really don’t want to see another month of pictures and outrage like we had after Eduardo’s injury. We came back brilliantly against Stoke, Wenger often mentions spirit, I don’t think we’ve shown great spirit at all this season, everytime we’ve taken a knock back our heads have dropped. Against Stoke that changed, things went against us in the worst way possible and instead of sulking, we upped our game. Now let us look to the future, to our title run in and #WinTheLeagueForRamsey!