By Proud Kev
So West Ham fan and Daily Mail sports journalist Martin Samuel has continued his love affair with Arsenal. His target this time is not Arsene Wenger but Matthieu Flamini. Apparently his two footed tackle against Bournemouth was one of the most heinous crimes in football.
Martin Samuel seems oblivious to the fact that Ryan Gosling, the recipient of Flamini’s tackle, was not injured. In fact it was one of those two footed tackles for the ball with minimal contact – not one launched at a player to injure them.
As was pointed out in the referee review of the game, “Reckless” means that the player has acted with complete disregard to the danger to, or consequences for, his opponent. The rules also say A player who plays in a reckless manner must be cautioned.
So was this a crime, so abhorrent that it ranks alongside:
- The Ryan Shawcross tackle that broke Aaron Ramsey’s leg in half?
- The Martin Taylor tackle that broke Eduardo’s leg and fractured his ankle?
- The Dan Smith tackle that broke Diabys ankle and virtually finished his career?
- The Paddy McNair tackle that smashed Jack Wilsheres ankle and which referee Dean decided was not a foul.
The irony of Martin Samuel’s poor journalism is that NO OTHER TEAM has had has many players as Arsenal receiving broken limbs through reckless challenges.
So what is the motive behind this story?
I suspect the simple motive for this story is that Matthieu Flamini is French and he plays for Arsenal. Just a guess.
Let’s look at some of the very interesting comments that surround the physical treatment Arsenal have been the victims of since Wenger brought his brand of skilful, technical football to England and the Premier League. Let us focus on the evidence that proves Arsenal have been the victims of the backward approach to football displayed by us British.
Arsenal have been victims of a Jurassic interpretation of the rules, used to protect English football from the more skilled and technical players from the continent. The English FA and those who uphold the laws in PGMOL, have been complicit by misinterpreting the rules of the game and ensuring strict control over the appointment of match referees.
Thierry Henry quotes:
A) “When I first came to England I couldn’t understand why fouls weren’t awarded when I was being kicked. It took me time to adapt my game.
B) “The Arsenal players started to kick me in training, so I could get used to it”
Gary Neville quotes:
A) “Arsenal have all the skills but they had a soft centre. You could never say that of the 1998 Arsenal side. They were tough. They didn’t have the touch of arrogance that would come in the Henry years when their attitude was: ‘you can’t touch us, we’re French and we’re brilliant’.
B) “We knew a lot of them hated aerial challenges, so what did we do? We clattered them in the air at every opportunity!!”
C) “My job was to nullify the threat of Antonio Reyes. Some say I crossed the line. How? Yes, there was a time in the first half when he knocked the ball through my legs and, chasing back, I went through him and tripped him. It wasn’t pretty but it’s something any defender does dozens of times a season: you concede a foul high up the pitch rather than risk worse trouble around the penalty area.
D) “How many defenders do you see rough up Giggsy? He’ll get kicked but he’ll never get physically dominated by a defender. Look at the way Giggsy went through Lee Bowyer at Birmingham last season after Bowyer had put in a bad tackle. It was a challenge that carried a message: ‘Don’t think we’re gonna get bullied.”
The secret footballer quotes:
A) “One manager who I played under came up with an antidote (to playing Arsenal). It wasn’t pretty, it didn’t change the game as we know it, and we had plenty of critics, but ultimately it worked. In short, the manager decided that we should kick the fuck out of them”.
B) As players we all get away with the first tackle – maybe the first two tackles on a good day – but it has to be the right tackle: you can’t stamp, punch and kick, but you can turn a 50–50 into a 70–30 against an Arsenal player because the Arsenal players will invariably stay on their feet, which means that, as you slide through the ball, you will slide right through the player.
C) I once heard Aaron Ramsey moaning to the ref about the tackling. The ref replied, ‘Well, why don’t you try tackling too?’
D) We’d be practising set pieces, usually a corner, when he’d say, ‘Right, let’s get right into these on Saturday, lads. We’ve got to go after them from the off.’ That would be it, that’s all it was. Then when the corner came in he would tell the two centre-halves to run towards the near post and the middle of the goal, and tell a striker to run to the back post. He’d say, ‘If the ball misses you then at the very least you make sure that you take somebody into the goal with you.’ Then he’d say to the second centre-half, ‘If you miss it, you do the goalkeeper.’
E) That ‘philosophy’ became the mantra for the game. Arsenal hated it and lost, regularly. I hated it too. It was hard for me to play football like that because I’m a bit of a purist at heart and, well, even if I am a Spurs fan, if Arsène Wenger ever writes a book, I’ll be the first in the queue to buy a copy”
An example of the results the tactics employed against Arsenal can be seen below:
- ABOU DIABY – 2006
Arsene Wenger quotes:
A “It was an assassin’s tackle”
B) “The tackle at Sunderland destroyed Abou Diabys career” speaking on Bien in 2014.
Kevin Ball (Sunderland Manager) quotes:
“Smith is not a malicious, dirty player and I think it’s unfair to make that call on him and say he deliberately went to do it. Dan went for the ball, unfortunately Diaby was quicker than him”
Dan Smith quotes:
A) “It was not a malicious tackle, he has had other injuries since, as he had before. I never meant to hurt anyone, I never intended to hurt. The referee saw it clearly, I did not receive a red card, I do not remember if I was warned. It was just a late challenge that you see every weekend. There is one chance in a million that there is a serious injury. He had the ball when I was already running.
B) “I have compassion for him, it was not easy, he has had a lot of injuries since. But if you take all of his career, you cannot say he missed his life because of this injury. The last time I checked, he still earned 60,000 pounds a week. If this has been an obstacle in his career, obviously I apologise to him, but he must not forget that there are people less fortunate than himself.”
C) “With all due respect to him, Diaby is a great player, but he has always had a reputation for being more injury-prone than others”.
- EDUARDO DA SILVA – 2008
Arsene Wenger quotes:
A) “It goes with the idea that to stop Arsenal you have to kick Arsenal and that kind of thing was waiting to happen. Many people have got away with too many bad tackles. We’ve escaped a few times but it’s just not acceptable. If that is football it’s better to stop it.
B) The worst thing you hear after is that ‘he’s not the kind of guy’, but you need to only kill one person one time – it’s enough.”
Alex McLeish, quote:
“Martin Taylor is adamant there was no malicious intent and he is deeply upset by the extent of Eduardo’s injury. I’ve seen the challenge and, yes, the studs land on Eduardo’s ankle. In slow motion these tackles always look bad but he’s not a malicious player – Eduardo was just too quick for him. The referee’s done his job, it’s a sending off, but Taylor’s not a malicious player.”
Birmingham FC statement:
“Martin Taylor is adamant there was no malicious intent in the tackle and he is deeply upset by the extent of Eduardo’s injury. Having reviewed the incident, this (no malicious intent) is clearly the case”
- AARON RAMSEY 2010
Aaron Ramsey quote:
“It was a really tough thing to go through and I don’t wish it upon anybody. The determination and the professionalism that you need, all the hours you have to spend in the gym, it’s quite tough. But I’ve got through that. It’s taken me a bit longer than I would’ve liked, but I’m happy now where I am, and hoping to improve and carry on this good form that I’m in.’
Rory Delap quote:
A) “There was no malicious intent from Ryan, he’s not that kind of player. He’s a good lad and he’s been unlucky that that’s happened. He’s a committed player, but he’s never going to go into a challenge looking to hurt someone.”
B) “Everyone knew straight away what had happened. The referee, Peter Walton, said it wasn’t meant, but because of the injury he had to send Ryan off.”
The referee said he only sent Shawcross off because of the injury, not the reckless challenge!
Jack Wilshere 2014
Richard Innes, Daily Mirror:
Headline: “11 things stronger than Jack Wilshere’s ankles”
“With Jack Wilshere out for another three months after surgery on his left ankle, one key question comes to mind: just how fragile are the Arsenal midfielder’s ankles? Yes, injuries have seen Wilshere miss a lot of football in recent years – but nearly all of that absence has been down to his knackered ankles. So, just how weak are those joints? We’ve come up with a list of things we think are stronger. Feel free to suggest more”
We all know the media like to talk nonsense, not all of them, but most! And most of it I can take… however after being shown an article in the DailyMirror saying I have ‘Worlds most Brittle ankles’ by @bigrichinnes he clearly doesn’t know what ‘brittle’ means. As this picture clearly shows’ most people/players would have broken their ankle if someone tackled them like this. Luckily I have ‘loose joints’, not brittle’ and only damaged ligaments”
The common denominator
Is it a coincidence that every serious injury caused to one of our players was committed by a British player?
No. The evidence is clear. It is widely acknowledged that because of Arsenal’s superior football ability the best way to beat Arsenal is to implement a physical game.
The referees are clearly allowing this to happen, thanks to the way the FA and PGMOL have decided to interpret the rules of the game. Rules that fall in line with our Jurassic approach to the game we love, where effort is more important than skill.
The assault on Jack Wilshere was not even deemed a foul by Mike Dean. The Stoke players claim the referee only dismissed Shawcross because of the injury, not the tackle. Dan Smith did not even receive a booking for the late tackle that Arsene Wenger argues, ended Diabys career. That proves the point about the referees allowing Arsenal to be kicked. Clear proof.
Managers and players seem prepared to offer limited sympathy to those on the receiving end of these terrible tackles. Indeed, sympathy is bizarrely given to those responsible for the reckless tackles. The media are equally guilty, the Daily Mirror even decided to poke fun at Jack Wilshere for having his ankle ligaments ruined.
Perhaps one day the penny will drop and we will recognise the errors in the way we approach the game in this country.
But don’t hold your breath, after all we can’t have Johnny Foreigner showing us how to play the game we invented now can we?
- Untold returns – here’s what you missed while we were under attack.
- Arsenal v Leicester – Sunday 14 February – The Match Officials: this could be a problem.
- Ref Review: Arsenal – Bournemouth
From the anniversary files
15 February 2013: David Bentley went to Blackburn on loan from Tottenham as his career appears to enter its final stages. Upon retirement to open a restaurant he said that he had “never felt like a footballer”.
15 February 2015: Two goals from Giroud saw Arsenal sail through the fifth round of the FA Cup, and hopes began to develop that the club might retain the FA Cup, something it had only ever done once before.
The Untold Books
The latest Untold book is Arsenal: The Long Sleep 1953-1970 with a Foreword by Bob Wilson, available both as a paperback and as a Kindle book from Amazon. Details of this and our previously published titles can be found at Arsenal Books on this site.