Video Evidence: Is Arsene Wenger right that Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross is a dirty tackler?

“There was absolutely no malice in the challenge. I would never, ever go out to hurt a fellow professional. I am deeply upset that Aaron has suffered such a bad injury and my thoughts are with him. I would like to send him my best wishes too for a speedy recovery.” – Ryan Shawcross.

“It looks bad but Shawcross has got no malice at all… It’s an unfortunate injury, it looks a poor challenge, but Ryan Shawcross has not got any bad blood in him whatsoever. There’s no way in a million years that he would ever, ever go out to hurt a person. He’s a lovely kid and he’s been exemplary since he’s been at this football club.” – Tony Pulis.

“I’m not very happy with the tackle. We know what we are expecting, a battle everywhere, but we have now lost three players to horrendous tackles and I refuse to believe it’s always coincidence. I don’t believe it when you are hit as many times as we are. I just believe in what I see and when you see a player getting injured like that it’s not acceptable.” – Arsene Wenger.

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Cynics and Arsenal supporters will have little sympathy for Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross this week after the newly capped England international inflicted a horrific leg break on teenager Aaron Ramsey during the match with the Gunners on Saturday.

In the aftermath, the usual lines of what a nice guy Shawcross is, how there was no malice in the tackle, and how the injury to Ramsey was unfortunate, have all been trundled out to absolve the Stoke defender, and the Potters at large, of any long-lasting guilt. It’s just one of those things, that accidents happen – apparently.

The irony is, having just witnessed the horror leg break, we are immediately spoon-fed the excuses that Shawcross didn’t mean it. Well, sorry to be a stickler, but looking at the state of Ramsey’s leg flopping around in his sock, such defences are hard to swallow. Leaving the question of whether Shawcross is a good guy aside (which he very well might be), that does not at all impact the issue of whether he was reckless and out-of-line regarding the crunching challenge he put in on Ramsey.

So what of the evidence? Does Shawcross have a history of bad tackles? Below we bring you three fouls by Shawcross and leave it to you to decide.

1. Shawcross versus Emmanuel Adebayor – a sliding tackle of the then Arsenal forward’s ankle forced Adebayor out for over a month.

2. Shawcross during his time at Royal Antwerp – sadly we don’t have too much background information on the horror tackle that incredibly went unpunished, but it occurred during the defenders’ time in Belgium when on loan from Manchester United.

3. Shawcross vs Aaron Ramsey