First published February 10th 2011

You hear a lot of it, especially when an Arsenal player has just been hospitalised by a ‘fair’ tackle – ‘stop your whinging, football is a contact sport’.

Well, here’s the thing – it isn’t.

It is a ‘limited-contact’ sport, and in the word ‘limited’ lies a massive difference.

Other ‘limited-contact’ sports include basketball, baseball, field hockey, netball (yes, NETBALL), squash, running and ultimate frisbee.

The idea is to get the ball while touching your opponent as little as possible.

Contact sports? Well they include such things as Australian rules football, rugby, American football, wrestling, sumo, ice hockey, kick-boxing, judo, karate, and other forms of martial arts (though not all, some are deemed ‘semi-contact’ – stop it!).

Can you see how football doesn’t quite fit in to the category of ‘full contact’?

Limited Contact is defined as this:

“Limited-contact sports are sports in which the rules are specifically designed to prevent contact between players either intentionally or unintentionally. Although contact can still happen, strong penalties are often used to disallow substantial contact between players. These penalties, including physically removing players from the field of play, mean that contact is moderate or rare”

There has been a lot of talk, once again, that Arsenal fans are whingers and sore losers by the fact that they did not like Barton’s tackle on Diaby. “He won the ball” they say. “if they don’t like it, perhaps they should play netball” is another.

There is absolutely NOTHING in the  laws of the game which states that as long as your studs graze the ball you can throw your body in to your opponent as hard as you like. There is NOTHING that states winning the ball is all that matters, yet that line is trotted out as much as ‘he’s not that type of player’.

Well, do you know what, Barton IS that kind of player. He knew exactly what he was doing when he challenged Diaby and he knew that as long as he touched the ball, no matter how lightly, he would likely be ok and remain on the pitch.

Don’t believe me? Then let’s look at the rules of the game shall we.

Direct free kick

A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following seven offences in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:

• kicks or attempts to kick an opponent
• trips or attempts to trip an opponent
• jumps at an opponent
• charges an opponent
• strikes or attempts to strike an opponent
• pushes an opponent
• tackles an opponent

See ANYTHING there where it says you can do those things as long as you win the ball?

Indirect free kicks (I’ve taken out the stuff talking about handballs etc):

An indirect free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if, in the opinion of the referee, a player:

• plays in a dangerous manner
• impedes the progress of an opponent
• prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands
• commits any other offence, not previously mentioned in Law 12, for which play is stopped to caution or send off a player

Causing a players leg to bend until it almost breaks? Is that not ‘playing in a dangerous manner’?

Notice how it is a Direct Free Kick if a player even tackles another player in a careless, reckless manner or using excessive force?

Absolutely nowhere in the rules does the excuse of ‘winning the ball’ appear. Nowhere. You can search for yourself if you like. Here are the rules of the game.

Winning the ball IS NOT all that matters.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating the outlawing of tackling, a good, hard, fair tackle is part of the game – even Wenger says so, you know Arsene Wenger, that Arch-Enemy of tackling if you are to believe all that you read. The important word there is fair.

What I am saying is that the way tackling is judged in the Premier League is wrong. The priorities in the game are wrong, and the way people defend it are wrong.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

A push in the back? Off you go son. A knee high challenge which almost breaks a leg, but his foot touched the ball? Well that’s ok then, all part of the game.

After all, he won the ball didn’t he?

Mistakes and accidents will happened on a football pitch, but not as often as people will have you believe. If a player ends up with a broken leg after a tackle, chances are, there was something very, very wrong with that tackle.

Even if he did get the ball.

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  • lee the loft lagger

    i hate it when peopple say he,s not that type of player ? clearly they are !

  • PirateMaps

    Excellent post. Sadly the Sun readers amongst us will fire out the usual “Whinging Arsenal” comments.

    If/When Barton tackles our “Golden Boy Rooney” like that, I wonder if anyone will use the “he won the ball” excuse?

  • Jude (TheobscureDr)

    Ladyarse – a bloody good point eloquently made. xx

  • Anonymous

    Cheers guys :) Must admit,was a bit concerned about publishing it, but got totally fed up hearing ‘he won the ball’ used to blanket-cover all manner of terrible tackles

    • Anonymous

      well LA if people start attacking you it wouldn’t be the first time would it? :) you’re right that getting the ball does not excuse reckless tackles. if i tackled someone, just because i got the ball and then purposely took him out doesn’t mean it was fair.

      and the “contact” sport argument. playing in the US you constantly hear haters yelling out that its not a contact/a woman’s sport, especially in the areas where american football is the be all and end all. is it a full-on contact sport like the ones you mentioned? no, but there is a lot of contact be it tackling, shoulder to shoulder, or the occasional elbow. it was funny hearing kids i went to high school with bring up the “its not a contact sport” until they actually saw us play our rival. they changed their tune shortly after

    • Weedonald

      LA, I am convinced that fans and other people who watch Football have been confused and mislead by the media, their mates and their interpretations¨of the Laws because:

      1) The Laws actually were written with two possible interpretations – the Letter of the Law and the Spirit of the Law. the Letter is easy to understand, the Spirit is very difficult and needs experience, expertise, profound knowledge of the Laws and their intent and discretion.
      2) 98% of people watching Football haven’t the foggiest about how many Laws there are, what they are, how they need to be applied, who created them and who adapts,or modifies them and from what I read on blogs, they couldn’t care less.
      3) Referees (I am a retired national referee) take years before they can learn to apply and interpret the Laws in the true spirit of football. Each level they officiate at is quite different from the previous one and by the time you get to the professional game, the teams and managers know exactly how to manipulate, find the gray areas and spin their behaviour to squeeze out the best result for themselves or their team.
      4) Officials are subject to tremendous stress, fatigue (no substitutes!), decision-making demands, are poorly paid and often left unprotected (especially in the lower leagues) and are harassed, criticized, assessed and harried to death by the managers, referee assessors, Referee Associations and the media. That is why there is such a shortage of officials at all levels in the game worldwide.

      All this to say that it doesn’t surprise me that the media, the pundits, the bloggers and the writers have a very limited command of the Laws. Barton’s ¨tackle¨was in fact NOT a tackle despite what Poll, Sky TV and MOTD might pretend. It was in fact:

      1) Serious foul play, with a very strong element of dangerous play and a clear attempt to win the ball at all costs.
      2) While he did ¨play¨the ball first, the manner in which his leg was off the ground and the pace and aggressiveness with which he challenged was a clear indicator of the intent to win the ball at all costs regardless of the consequences. He was very fortunate to escape unsanctioned.

      A proper tackle has three elements to it:

      1) It is shoulder to shoulder or if on the ground,(traditional sliding tackle) the leg (NOT two legs ever) must touch the ball first and must NOT be done in a dangerous manner. Tackling between an opponents legs or charging him or her from behind in the back is also a serious infringement.
      2) If the opponent falls or is injured after such a proper tackle, that is part of the game…it is interesting to see how many bad tackles are ignored in the opponents penalty area and how rarely an indirect free kick is awarded in the box at the professional level (unless it is for the defenders).
      3) The tackler must show intent to win the ball fairly and without serious foul play. the referee usually judges that by the way he went into the tackle, by where his eyes are looking when the tackle occurs and by the timing and mechanics (placement of the foot, etc.)of the tackle. The spirit of the Law intends that safe and conscionable fair play is used to win the ball so that the tackler doesn’t gain any unlawful advantage by using his hands(pulling the jersey,obstructing, pushing,hitting etc.), injuring his opponent, or tripping him/her before or while tackling for the ball. The so-called 50-50 ball is a rarity, usually one or other of the players are closer,faster or more agile in getting to the ball and that is often where a foul is committed by his/her opponent. Fair tackling is an art which is disappearing from the game!
      When the Laws were first made the average height and weight of the players was around 5′ 7¨and about 150 pounds (sorry don’t know the metric equivalents) but now the players are often near 6¨(except for Arsenal’s midgets) and well over 180 pounds so a tackle now is like a train wreck.

      Hope this clears up a bit of the ¨mystery¨ about how the officials interpret and apply the Laws!

  • Brett

    A well made point (and done in a brilliant fashion).

    The problem is Barton is the type of player that needs checking by the ref sooner. If he was given the yellow card for his awful challenge on Arshavin he might’ve been a bit more sensible in that situation, but he was getting away with murder. If you can get away with it you might as well continue.

    I bring up this point quite often and not just when watching Arsenal. There’s nothing wrong with a nice hard tackle that wins the ball but going in like that on a 50/50 is ridiculous.

    Arsenal players are responsible for them sometimes as well. These do happen but Barton is a repeat offender and I don’t see that changing at any point in his career.

  • Caz Owens

    Absolutely bloody brilliant. Facts, rules and an explanation.
    “He won the ball” is a new way of justifying the tackles. I’ve heard it more and more in the past few seasons filtering down from mis-informed commentators (ex-footballers!!!), to the mis-informed media and press and finally to the fans. “He won the ball” is not in the rules and the sooner people stop saying it, the quicker it will go away.

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  • Jack Straw

    Great post! This should be mandatory reading for all fans of the game.

  • ArsenalRanter – Rob Fuller

    Well put points of view me thinks… it’s just a shame that these rules aren’t adhered to as strictly as they’re set out. The mentality in this country has always been and will remain to be, that as long as a player wins the ball, he can tackle has hard as he wants. Until that changes, these rules may as well be written in piss on a brick wall.

  • Flex

    Well made point you wonderful woman, you.

  • Neil1989

    Please forward this to some of the sportswriters in the UK. This is a must read!

  • zag

    rules of football are often ignored by refs, eg whatever happened to the indirect free-kick for unintentional handball?

    the one i love from commentators is when they say, it was a fair tackle, he won the ball, it’s just that his momentum carried him into the player. his momentum! it’s as if we should blame Isaac Newton rather than Joey Barton.

    • Weedonald

      Zag….there never was an indirect free kick for unintentional handball in the Laws…it wouldn’t make any sense. Lets say you are playing as a CB and you are in your penalty area, their striker kicks the ball at you and you protect your genitals, the ball hits your hand…where is the infringement? You neither had intent nor committed any infringement of the Laws since:

      1) You did not move your hand to the ball, the ball hit your hand (thankfully)!
      2) Your intent is clearly not to deflect or grab the ball but protect your groin!
      3) The Law does state that players may protect their genitals (women their breasts as well) without fear of a handball infringement (it is in the decisions of the FIFa Board).

      this being said, if you clearly and intentionally move your hand to the ball trying to deflect or stop it from hitting you or trying to control it to play it afterward…that is an infringement! There was never an award of an indirect free kick for an intentional hand ball…it is always a Direct free kick or a penalty if it occurs in your penalty area by one of your players (other than the keeper).

      • Weedonald

        I forgot to mention that your arm(s) must be in an ordinary playing position but the actual position is left to the referee to judge. If the ball hits you hand/arm but they are way out of position, that is considered intent to handle by most referees…there is a great deal of latitude here but players rarely understand the Law, never mind the latitude referees may or may provide.

  • Brittany

    This is the only sensible article about tackles I have read in a long time. I am so sick of hearing that phrase,”He won the ball.” Okay, and what if he breaks someone’s leg in the process? Rash challenges have got to go, even if they do “Win the ball.”

  • Emk

    Ha, what a great post! You did let it stir for a few days hè? and wauwwh did you hit back… maximal contact made :)

  • Paul N

    This is great article. I was amazed that so many said that Burtons tackle was fair including Graham Poll!

    People say it was a 50/50 ball which again is nonsense. The ball was played to Diaby, thats why Burton comes sliding in.

  • Bala

    Great one LA.Football is a contact sport but too much contacts leads to leg breaks which in turn turns football into Rugby.How many malicious tackles have we seen from Sagna & Koscielny(Two of the best Tackles IMO) this season?

  • Irishgray75

    Fantastic article Lady, the best I have read on the subject to date. I tip my hat!!!

    • Melissa Alfieri

      don’t know a lot about soccer – sometimes I miss my husband. I always loved him. Tell him that for me.

  • Since1979

    Great post now like so many have said this needs to be sent to the “He got the ball first” brigade and all of the prem refs so they can all re-read the rules and govern by them.

  • Tunde Omopariola

    Great article, unfortunately those who need to read and understand this will not read it and if they do will brush it aside. This is why England will never win anything, pundits and a lot associated with football in this country are so backward that they keep talking about tackles and how hard you need to be rather than focusing on skill and technical spects of the game.

    Fantastic article.

  • James McGillivray

    Great post LA. A point well made but not laboured.

  • John Pedro

    Couldn’t have put it better myself @LadyArse. Darren Lewis made a similar point on mirrorfootball the other day but while it remains mainly Arsenal players who have broken legs to show for a ‘got the ball first’ tackle, the majority of football fans will see this as a softy southerner non-issue. The fact that there is still a debate about the fairness of Barton’s tackle tells you that we haven’t yet learned the lessons of incidents for which Diaby, Eduardo and Ramsey have paid a heavy price.

  • Anonymous

    Please barton do one of your tackles on rooney, then lets see if they wil change. great article by the way

  • Joppa Road

    Very hard from Barton but fair. Did it get his team back in the game? Arguably. Did Arsenal go to pieces after it? Yes they did.

    Still a good challenge in my opinion and from most non Arsenal football fans I speak to (of which there are many) they all seem to think the tackle was maybe a little reckless but they say fair. These people I speak to support Leeds, Man U, Spurs, Stevenage, Barnet and Aston Villa all seem to agree it was hard but ok.

    Let me ask you this, and please answer honestly. If you lot had seen Jack Wilshere fly into exactly the same tackle except on Joey Barton you would have been up off your seat cheering. Had Barton of reacted the way Diaby did you would of all been saying Barton is a mug and got the red he deserved. And if you are denying you would have loved seeing Wilshere fly in with a tackle like that I am going to out right call you all liars. Hypocrites then, end of discussion.

    Equating hard tackles to England’s failure at international level is dumb. But there you go, you all know best.

    Keep up the crusade.

    • Anonymous

      Little bit off point there Joppa….

      Just because fans like it does not make it right. And what would the fans have been cheering? The fact that Barton got hit hard? That’s because it’s Barton.

      Keep saying it’s ok just because you win the ball, keep suffering terrible leg breaks. Simple

      • Joppa Road

        The fans would have been cheering any kind of tackle like that from an Arsenal player because whether we admit it on here or not we all love to see them. Of course we don’t like seeing any player break a leg but that event it actually very rare.

        What are the ratio of tackles to leg breaks? Did more happen when harder tackles were allowed of has the amount of breaks risen since we tried to out law the tackle from behind etc?

        I would like to see the amount of broken bones through out the europeans top leagues and the EPL over the last 30 years for example. Would make for interesting reading.

        • puppyguts

          “we all love to see them” do me a favour

          • Joppa Road

            You are in the minority then I’m afraid Puppyguts. Fans love tackles. If it had been an Arsenal player we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. So hypocritcal it’s unreal.

          • Paul N

            You have invalidated your own stance by saying this in your initial post.

            “Still a good challenge in my opinion and from most non Arsenal football fans I speak to (of which there are many) they all seem to think the tackle was maybe a little reckless but they say fair.”

            Now if the tackle was reckless in any way shape or form, it cannot be fair. That statement is unreasonable.

            What about if I drive a little reckless? or maybe drink a little reckless? or shoot a little reckless?

            reckless: without thought of danger: marked by a lack of thought about danger or other possible undesirable consequences

            So Barton only did that a little?

            Come on now!

            Why would anyone want any Arsenal player to make such a tackle?

          • Joppa Road

            To clarify I simply accept tackles such as Barton’s happen. I thought it was ok. Most of the media and the majority of other football fans around the country thought it was hard but borderline fair.

            But it seems Arsenal are forever the victim.

          • Paul N

            yes “reckless” tackles like Bartons happen and thank God Diaby’s leg is not broken.

            Arsenal with 3 players whose careers nearly ended due to reckless tackles are victims? NAH!

            scratching my head

          • Steve of Chiang Mai

            Reckless tackles like Bartons and De Jongs on Ben Arfa don’t just happen, they are the result of deliberately positioning the trailing leg in such a way that the knee collides through the stationary leg of the player on the receiving end of the tackle with a perpendicular and contrary trajectory that unlike the traditional sliding tackle which sees the legs of both players travelling in the same direction, strikes the leg of the player with force moving in the opposite direction. To say the tackle was “hard but fair” may be gratifying to some – hey even some people enjoy cage fighting but it is indefensible according to the laws of physics.

          • Daniel Ahlsen

            A tackle is nice to see if it’s fair, it’s not nice to see Diaby almost get his legs broken three times a season.

        • Alan

          I love to see a fair robust challenge.

        • Daniel Ahlsen

          So what you’re saying is that it’s okay that players suffer excruciating pain for your own enjoyment. Good thinking…

    • Terence McGovern

      I wish Joey Barton would tackle you fairly and see what your opinion would be then.

    • Anonymous

      Honestly if Jack had done the exact same tackle on Barton I probably would have cheered and thought the little shit deserves all he gets. I still think the tackle was naughty. From my point of view Barton knew he was going to get the ball but knew he was going to take the man as well. IMO the challenge looks awkward because he’s making sure he got the man.

      I couldn’t bring myself to watch the highlights on TV but on the clip of the incident the commentator states Barton left the ground. Leaving the ground means you’re not in control which normally means a red card.

    • Weedonald

      Your logic is circular, fallacious and without true merit. First of all you say all Arsenal fans on this blog are hypocrites, based on the fact they don’t agree with you and your friends interpretation of what a hard but fair tackle is. Then you have the nerve to criticise us by accusing us of being on a crusade… to do precisely what….maybe improve the overal EPL quality and safety, encourage officials to enforce the laws more uniformly, agitate for the removal of vicious and recalcitrant Neanderthals who repeatedly display serious misconduct and dangerous aggression?
      In answer to your loaded question about Barton getting scythed by an Arsenal player, I would never cheer that as the game isn’t about getting even or seeking revenge but about Football that makes people want to cheer…not for serious injuries but for beautiful Football!
      England were less than spectacular NOT because they tackled hard but because they didn’t give a damn and they were aging, tired, mediocre,uninspired rich-boys out for some sun and fun in SA,
      You think you know best and you seem to have a chip on your shoulder the size of the Titanic so I suggest you find an iceberg and start making sense.

  • Jayother

    It wouldn’t be so bad if we were allowed to tackle back! As soon as we do it’s a yellow!! If diary hadn’t of thrown a paddy then done a complete replica of the tackle on Barton then he would of been off!!!!

  • Anonymous

    EXACTLY!! Thank you!! You’ve hit on a point that infuriates me – no, you idiots, football is NOT a contact sport – it’s not rugby nor gridiron football nor Australian Rules Football nor boxing nor wrestling!!! Only ignoramuses make this argument. Excellent blog.

  • Joppa Road

    Brilliant Terrence, brilliant.

  • Anonymous

    BTW, Diaby wasn’t just reacting to that particular challenge from Barton. Barton had started his crap in the 1st half. Barton deliberately stamped on Diaby just before the challenge that made him react. Diaby had also witnessed Dowd give no booking to Barton when he made a vicious foul on Arhsavin that deserved a yellow if not a red. By the time Barton went kamikaze on Diaby, Diaby had watched as Dowd was allowing Barton & other Newcastle players total impunity to kick and stamp and foul at will.

  • Anonymous

    Heard Aime Jacquet comment on that match in Les Specialiste on Canal+. Its a bit like TalkSport in France except that sometimes they have quality commentators. Desailly refused to comment to avoid controversy and all the other Managers on the show left it to Jacquet.

    It is a shame for football in England. Hearing Diaby wants to move to Spain…after Eduardo moved last time…maybe Nasri and Cesc will want to avoid ending their careers with a broken leg next. Anyone know why Zidane refused to sign for an English team? Or why Messi’s parents refused that he sign for Arsenal, an English team?

    Players came for the money no doubt…but its over now…it will take its time but the PL will go back to where it belongs soon.

    “Thats the way we play here, its the culture. Forty years ago it was even better”… well, some thousand years ago, man used to go about naked and dirty, should we do the same because it used to be like that.

    • Anonymous

      Brilliant comment. Was saying something similar on Twitter – is it any wonder Diaby would have thoughts away from the Premier League? He has been on the end of THREE horrendous tackles this season, each one he was lucky to walk away from and each one UNPUNISHED.

      It’s a disgrace and we should be ashamed of it, not touting it as one of the attractive qualities of the Premier League. Competitive does not equal aggressive. The fact that Andy Gray and others have said ‘could Messi cut it at Stoke on a cold January night’ was absurd, but even more so because he was basically saying ‘could Messi cope with having the crap kicked out of him for 90 minutes?’

      People missed that point and just went on about how Messi’s skill would allow him to play anywhere on the planet – and it would – but would the Stoke’s of this world let him or would the biggest cheer of the night not come from his sublime skill but the first time he got kicked in to the air?

      • Joppa Road

        So are you telling me LA you wouldn’t want an Arsenal fan to clatter Messi in the matches coming up? Ok.Seems to me alot of you on here are living in some kind of fantasy world.

        The Premier League is still the best league in the world and will be for some time. The French guy might not like it but given a choice I know which league I will be watching.

        Please tell me where this guy thinks the Premier League belongs.

        • Daniel Ahlsen

          I for one wouldn’t want to make a tackle that is reckless and threatens serious injurt to Messi. I’d rather lose the tie than to harm any player seriously. I’m not kidding…

          I don’t understand why people are so protective of rotten, dangerous and illegal tackling that every season injures players? Does any fan or player want people to get injured? Let’s face it, some of the tackling seen on football pitches are illegal in EVERY sport on the planet. So why not enforce the football law?

        • Anonymous

          Are you seriously asking me if I would want to see an Arsenal player put in a Barton or Shawcross type tackle on Messi?

          I want to see talent play, not on crutches. If the forward is too good learn to defend better, it’s not rocket science. But at present it seems the higher the skill of some players the harder others think they need to hit them to deal with it.

          Be a better defender, not a harder one, that way everyone wins…the attacker stays in one piece and the defender does a better job and will spend more time on the pitch.

  • Alan

    Barton’s tackle was a fair one. His studs were down and he more than grazed the ball. Maybe if fans like you stopped being so bloody precious than diaby would have dusted himself off and walked away from the tackle, allowing the Ref to do his job. As it stands, the only foul was is.

    • Anonymous

      Allowing the Ref to do his job ! Keep up, Dowd had a mare !

    • Paul N

      So Diaby reacted due to the supporters? I guess him getting a broken ankle and being out due to another crazy tackle have nothing to do with it?

      If fans like you would think before posting, we wouldnt have to read such nonsense.

  • Joppa Road

    *player not fan – we don’t want to see that!

  • Joppa Road

    *player, not fan. Truth is had an Arsenal player made that challenge and it was all over SSN you would have been on here defending him to the hilt, pointing out every other teams bad challenges. I’m not buying it.

    • PirateMaps

      I’m glad you know how all Arsenal fans would react to a hypothetical situation in the future, could I have this week’s lottery numbers?

      In all seriousness when Wilshere was (rightly) sent off for his lunge on Zigic there was very little defence from Arsenal fans. Sums it up perfectly and Jack has reigned in his aggression, look at his sublime tackle last night in the England game that the referee wrongly penalized him for,. Would you rather see a tackle like Barton’s where he’s left the floor with the intent to clatter/injure Diaby than a tackle like Jack’s last night which won the ball cleanly without the need to jump on the opposition’s leg?

      The answer is probably yes as you seem like a typical Talksport moron, just something to ponder over.

      • Joppa Road

        Of course talkshite through and through me. I just think that maybe Arsenal could of done with a cunt (Barton according to most Arsenal fans) of their own in the 2nd half when the going got tough. Sadly we didn’t have one and we collapsed which is a worry for the games ahead.

        Whilst tackling is part of the game then there are going to be varying degrees of tackles – not all of them good. Sometimes players are going to get away with them. Take Huth in the week when he had two feet off the ground and only recieved a yellow. He then went on to score the winner on the Saturday. It’s not fair, sometimes the game isn’t

        No one is saying Barton’s tackle was great but when he got the ball it was with one foot and that foot was studs down. Hard but to me but fair even if my gut says slightly reckless we have to get on with the game and Diaby and Arsenal didn’t.

        Wilshere’s challenge on Zigic wasn’t and was rightly red.

        I just wish our team had a nasty side too. If it makes me wrong so be it.

        • Pirate

          Reckless meaning “with a lack of regard to consequences” and is the exact word used in laws of the game to define an unacceptable tackle.

          Barton and that type of tackle are everything I despise about football, if we had a player who behaved like that on the pitch I’d be disgusted.

          Clearly you enjoy players like Diaby, Eduardo and potentially Ramsey having their careers hampered by so called hard but fair challenges by players who win the ball first.

        • Pirate

          Reckless meaning “with a lack of regard to consequences” and is the exact word used in laws of the game to define an unacceptable tackle.

          Barton and that type of tackle are everything I despise about football, if we had a player who behaved like that on the pitch I’d be disgusted.

          Clearly you enjoy players like Diaby, Eduardo and potentially Ramsey having their careers hampered by so called hard but fair challenges by players who win the ball first.

          • Joppa Road

            So are the whole media wrong overall? Are they all ‘after’ Arsenal? Please answer yes and give evidence.

            Poor old Arsenal, always the bridesmaid, always the victim or so it seems. Nothing could be further from the truth.

          • Anonymous

            Again Joppa, that isn’t what this discussion is about.

          • PirateMaps

            Are the media after Arsenal? No
            Is the media’s support of “Getting at Arsenal because they don’t like it” contributing to the horrendous tackles we’ve seen on our players? Yes

            All teams have bad challenges against them, through poor timing, frustration or plain inability. That’s part of football.

            When a team is getting pumped up to go on the pitch and kick Arsenal into submission that is where the problem lies. If a tackle is there to be made then fine, but if a player is purposefully making a strong challenge just because he can then that is a not right.

            You said fans love seeing strong challenges and yes they do because a last ditch, goal saving sliding tackle can be as good as a goal. But a tackle like Barton’s is not something to be enjoyed, any sighted person could see it was dangerous, he didn’t need to jump in on Diaby’s leg but the whole perception that this kind of tackle is ok meant Dowd did nothing about it (despite being the second bad tackle by Barton that game) and Barton will make that kind of tackle again and again until another player gets his leg snapped in two. But that will be ok because he’s not that type of player, he won the ball first before mutilating the other guy’s leg. Not a problem.

      • Anonymous

        A perfect example. I criticised Jack after that tackle v Wigan and his tackle last night was wonderful…that sounds a bit wrong, but you know what I mean. Which would/did the crowd appreciate more? The one which was executed perfectly, showing skill, timing and technique when he could have quite easily went through the player to get the ball but didn’t.

        And I don’t even think Jack meant to hurt Zigic, Barton MEANT to go through Diaby, otherwise why hit him so hard? No excuse for Jacks and no defence for Bartons

    • Anonymous

      You know that’s not true, I’ve had goes at Arsenal players for bad tackles and diving, I might not do it as freely, but I still do it. I don’t believe in one rule for you and one for us, never have.

      The fact is, we don’t put in as many hard tackles as we have put in on us, want me to criticise us more so it balances out?

      If you believe Bartons tackle was fair, then fair enough. Doesn’t make it so. He used excessive force, and made sure that he went through the man, his knee impacting Diaby half way up his shin bending it badly. Either he meant to do it, or had no control, neither is acceptable and most pundits I’ve heard have agreed.

  • Ariane

    Good blog, LA. Brings things into perspective.
    If we work hard against Barca and stop them with clean, skillful tackles I couldn’t be happier.

    • Joppa Road

      Would it be fair to say Ariane’s comment sums up the feelings of most people who comment on LadyArse?

      I guess it’s where we differ mentality / thinking wise. Infact I would say the above comment leaves me stunned a little. If that’s what makes you happy though who am I to argue?

      If for instance I knew my team were playing a team with a very skillful player in I would target him. I’m not saying break his legs, but I am saying perhaps go through the back, take a yellow if need be. It’s not right particularly but if you don’t have the players to match then you have to play to your strengths.

      Sometimes you need to rough it up too and it’s not always fair. I’m just being honest here, of course I understand it’s easy to have a pop at what I am saying but it’s reality.

      • puppyguts

        “perhaps go through the back, take a yellow if need be” jesus, u have really made a mess of your comments on this post

      • Paul N

        You can support the likes of Stoke, Bolton, Newcastle etc so that you can enjoy all the roughing up if thats your cup of tea.

        It seems you want to force your way of thinking on ALL Arsenal supporters and people dont agree you label them hypocrits.

        It would seem from this blog that most Arsenal supporters regard skill over thuggery. Most of us agree with Wenger, that you can be committed and skillfull in your tackling.

        How many more broken legs do you want to see before you realize that your stance is bordering madness?

        Even in American football where it is a 100% contact sport, you have the powers that be trying to make it as safe for its players as possible. No head to head shots, no horsecollar tackes (pulling from the neck from behind) amongst other things.

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  • AMTgooner

    Brilliant blog – well-argued, well-evidenced, accurate as ever.

    Message to Joppa: “a little reckless”; “borderline fair” – do us a favour. Do you even understand the English language? Ok, so you prefer thuggery to football. Why don’t you just have done with it and go watch bare knuckle fighting – you’d clearly be much more at home with that.

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