Stoke City 1-3 Arsenal – 27/02/10 – (Premier League) 1 March, 2010Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
I’ve had a few days now to calm down, think about the game and get my voice back but two days later I still feel like I did just as the game finished. Saturday has made me immensely proud to be a Gooner and I feel like that game was some kind of landmark in our season.
Obviously the main talking point from the game is the terrible injury to Aaron Ramsey so I’ll get into that first. He fractured the tibia and fibula in his right leg thanks to an awful challenge by Ryan Shawcross. The club has confirmed that the operation was successful but have yet to put a time frame on his return. It’s still very early days yet but he’s likely to be out for around a year and we can only really expect him to be gradually introduced towards the end of the 2010/11 season. It’s a massive speed bump in the 19-year-old’s career and I’m sure I speak for all of us when I wish him the very, very best recovery.
He’s a great prospect and is set to be a big star at club and international level, hopefully in a years time he can continue his good progress and get back on track. A broken leg is very disruptive in a footballers career though; it’s almost two years ago to the day that Eduardo suffered that awful leg break and he’s still paying for it now. It’s not just the obvious waiting for the bones to heal but your muscles need to get used to regular football again.
There has been a lot of defence of Ryan Shawcross since the challenge, possibly even more sympathy for him than poor Aaron Ramsey. The player did look upset leaving the pitch but so fucking what, he still did it! In Stoke’s official statement they said ‘there was no malice in the challenge’ which I understand, I never would say he went in there to intentionally break his leg, but for sure he went in knowing he was going to hurt him. It’s been covered a lot on the blogs in the past couple of days and I know everyone’s saying it but if you haven’t been reading Arseblog in recently then you really need to. Everything ‘blogger says is absolutely spot on and there’s no point in me repeating it here.
He’s right about saying the media have Aaron’s blood on their hands, just turning a blind eye to this ‘it’s ok to kick Arsenal, they don’t like it’ nonsense. We’re used to it now but this is the third broken leg in 4 years and it’s got to the point where it’s unacceptable now. We know that most teams will give us a physical game and so do the media, they love it – but you have to draw the line when people’s careers are being ruined like this. Wenger says he doesn’t believe in coincidence, this is far more than that now, no other team has suffered injuries like this so consistently.
The reaction has been sickening in some cases. The Stoke fans we shouting at him him to get up at the time of the challenge and signalling gestures at him as he was stretchered into the ambulance. I don’t expect anything better from that scum anyway, they really showed what they’re like on Saturday. The media hasn’t been great either, there’s been a handful of stories backing us up but far too much defence of Shawcross and this physical style of football that it’s somehow ok to play against Arsenal. I’ve heard ‘he’s not that kind of player’ so many times in the last few days, but he fucking is. This is the second leg he’s broken in his career and came close to doing Adebayor’s ankle in the same fixture last season. All this shite about he’s a kind, loving, family boy who went home crying to his mother after the game is laughable. That doesn’t excuse you. Ironically he has been called up to the England squad for the first time who met at Arsenal’s London Colney training centre this morning. I bet there was an interesting atmosphere for him there.
So it’s a three-game ban for Shawcross and a year out plus a halted career for Ramsey. Hopefully this new broken leg will go some way to help protecting not just our players but all victims of this kind of football. The discipline system needs changes to rule this kind of thing out. I just feel bad that we’ve had to wait until someone’s got really hurt before anything’s been done.
To be honest though I don’t think anything will change. There was more reaction to Eduardo’s dive against Celtic than the broken leg he suffered at Birmingham. People just don’t like Arsenal, get used to it. I don’t know we’ll have to see but this story is far from over.
A few on us on the Arseblog forums are getting together to produce a banner that should hopefully be displayed at the Burnley game. I’ll post up a picture of that if I can. I’ve also heard that RedAction are doing something similar. All it takes is for something bad like this to happen to bring the team together and new we really have got someone to fight for – lets do it for Aaron.
I really should talk about the game, I know it sort of falls into insignificance after an incident like that but it really was a big game in our season. As I stepped onto the train up to Stoke, Chelsea vs. Man City was kicking off at Stamford Bridge on the other side of London. It was a big chance for Chelsea to drop points and I was checking my phone every 10 minutes to see the score. 4-2 it ended as I’m sure you know and the game that evening at the Britannia was now massive for us. With United playing in the Mickey Mouse Cup that weekend it meant we could go two points from United and three from leaders Chelsea with a win.
The Gooners were buzzing and the pre-match spirit was high ahead of the game. We we’re directed off the train to some student’s union bar before catching the bus to the ground an hour before kick off. The away support was in full voice as ever and there was a feeling around that we could win here for the first time.
I thought that Stoke’s only real threat to us was Rory Delap’s throw and he fucking did it again in the 8th minute. ‘Here we go again’ I thought. The throw came across the box and fell to the back post Pugh headed it in. My initial thought was offside but it was perfectly legitimate, we just cannot defend that throw.
We needed to bounce back quickly but it took us some time. For the only point in the day the Arsenal fans we’re reduced to a murmur. However as time went on we started seeing more of the ball and the travelling support got behind the team. Around the half hour mark we were piling the pressure on and I thought that we really needed to get a goal here while we were on top going into the break. And we did, a great Fabregas cross from the right and an even better looped header from Bendtner into the opposite corner of the goal and the South Stand erupted. What a goal.
So at half time it was all level at 1-1 and looking back through my twitter on Saturday I said the second half would be action packed, and I wasn’t wrong. We should’ve had a penalty early on when Ramsey was brought down in the box. I was stood right at the top of the stand but even from where I was it looked a clear foul. The referee never gave it a thought though and we had to play on.
We were piling on the pressure and really going for that goal to put us in the lead. Stoke couldn’t do anything and were reduced to fouling us, and in the 65th minute this happened…
Just the other side of the halfway line I saw two players go in for a ball and then everyone around him go mental calling for the physios. From all that way away everyone could see it clear, one of our men on the ground, leg in the air and his foot dangling from the end of it. Straight away everyone knew it was a break but for a second or two I couldn’t work out who it was. At first I thought it was Cesc Fabregas but then I saw the skipper confronting Shawcross with Vermaelen. It became clear that it was Ramsey and it did not look good for him. Everyone looked distraught around him, even Vermaelen looked like he did not know what to do with himself and I didn’t think he was able to show human physical emotions.
I must say fair play to Glenn Whelan who stayed with Aaron the whole time trying to keep him still and held his head whilst he was sick.
The Arsenal fans were obviously upset and Shawcross was subject to a lot of abuse. There was a few trying to get on the pitch at the front but the stewards held them back. All the while the home fans seemed to be loving the fact we had a boy down on the ground with his legs in pieces.
It meant there was a very hostile atmosphere once the game finally got underway. The crowd was really going now but the same couldn’t be said on the pitch, there was hardly a tackle for five or ten minutes and both teams were playing very cagey football obviously at shock at what they had just seen.
However after time, the big names such as Campbell and Fabregas showed why they are so important to this team and took this game by the scruff of the neck and said ‘we are going to fucking win this for Aaron’. Rosicky, Walcott and Eduardo had all come on now and we were really going for it. It was spine tingling watching us show that amount of passions and hunger, I was watching a team that wanted to win the league.
When the ball struck Pugh’s hand in the box and the penalty was awarded just as the board was about to go up for injury time we celebrated as if we’d just scored the winner. It was far from that though, Fabregas had to step up and take one of the most high-pressure penalties he’s ever took and fair play to the captain the stuck it away. I’ve never celebrated a winner against a team as shit as Stoke as much as I did then ever before but it felt like a massive goal in our season.
I never saw how much time was added on but I knew it would’ve been a lot and it wasn’t over yet. We kept going though and even added a third. We took a short corner but Fabregas found a gap and we worked a great little move ending up with a tap-in for Vermaelen. What he and Campbell were doing up for a corner that late on with the score only at 2-1 is beyond me but they were fucking mental along with everyone in the stand behind the goal.
3-1 it finished up and what a result it was. Fabregas called the players in for a huddle at the end and it felt like a massive result. I guess I was a fan of the Gallas-led huddles we had before but they seemed a bit pre-meditated and more like a chore than an actual display of our team spirit, but Saturday’s one was real. We really came together and wanted to show that at the end of the game.
I’m sorry for a really long post so well done if you got through all of that but I really feel like this was a landmark game. Many of these players have been in this situation before at St. Andrews when Eduardo broke his leg but we weren’t going to collapse like we did that day. We came together; we grew up and showed our spirit. On that day in 2008 in Birmingham it felt like we lost the league, two years later in Stoke it felt like we’re a step closer to re-gaining the title.
So proud to be a Gooner at the moment. COME ON YOU GUNNERS.