Arsenal have had a break from European action this week due to international friendlies, but sadly this is not the only break concerning Arsenal after Aaron Ramsey became the latest Arsenal player to suffer an horrific injury.
Arsene Wenger refuses to estimate when the Welsh starlet will return, but a successful operation to reduce the fractures of his tibia and fibula set him on the long road to recovery. The immediate aftermath of the incident produced a harrowing scene and while such a sickening injury is agonising for any player, it is more so for one of such obvious talent and potential.
As an inexperienced player, the squad can probably cope with his absence, but it is the possible implications on his long-term future that are most worrying – certainly Eduardo has been a shadow of himself since his horrific leg break two years ago. The manager remained largely controlled in his post-match press conference, but could not help venting some of his frustration. “It’s always coincidence. I don’t believe in coincidence when you are hit as many times as we [are],” Wenger commented, making a sly reference to previous injuries sustained by Abou Diaby and Eduardo.
His frustration was inevitably increased by a mischievous media trying to stir up a reaction, supplying Stoke’s Tony Pulis with ammunition to add to the animosity between the pair. Wenger clearly stated that the match was played in a “fair” spirit, but that Shawcross’ challenge on that one occasion was unacceptable. The manager has been very diplomatic in concentrating on Ramsey’s abilities and his recovery, insisting: “I would prefer to give my support to Ramsey rather than to play the judge.” He decided against castigating Shawcross, as his tearful exit from the pitch said more than any apology ever could. When challenged with the usual assertion that Arsenal don’t like a physical battle, the Frenchman retorted that it is: “Nothing to do with physical – commitment is right, but that’s not right, I don’t accept that [the challenge].” Ironically, Ramsey was Arsenal’s most physically committed player up to that point, and this may have been a factor in sustaining the injury.
With Arsenal now firmly in the title race, Wenger quickly recognised the potential media storm that would follow any chastisement of Shawcross and the detrimental effect it would produce. The manager has learned this lesson the hard way after comments made about Birmingham’s Martin Taylor in the wake of Eduardo’s injury. His condemnation of the player somewhat overshadowed the widespread concern for the player and made Arsenal a target for not only the media, but also future opponents. In fact, it is quite conceivable that this moment produced the widespread perception of Arsenal being intimidated by physicality. While Gallas’ on-pitch protest and Birmingham’s last-gasp equaliser in that game were also factors in their subsequent slump, the manager’s outburst was perhaps the most significant.
He does not want this Arsenal team to be derailed as they were in the wake of the Birmingham game. In an almost cyclical and fated manner, this season is their best chance of landing the Premiership crown since they capitulated after their defeat at St. Andrews in the 2007-08 season. Before that encounter, they looked set to take the title challenge down to the wire, but they subsequently stumbled to the finish line. Arsenal prevented a sense of d