It has been almost 5 years since that fateful day when Aaron Ramsey was stretchered off the pitch at the Brittania stadium with a fractured tibia and fibula on his right leg. A horrible tackle that left two young players careers finely balanced on a tipping point and arguably ignited a rivalry that would last right up to this present day.
It’s fair to say Stoke and Arsenal haven’t liked each other much throughout their history and for small periods in the 70’s there was upset between the two clubs mainly over FA Cup upsets but this died down and there was not much rivalry there by the time the two clubs played in the Premier League together.
Stoke have always been bit of a bogey team for the top clubs and more so Arsenal who have a great home record against the Potters but when it comes to playing them at the Brittania Stoke seem to have the advantage and gain decent results against Arsenal-and it irked Wenger no end.
In 2008, after Arsenal lost to Stoke, the flames of rivalry were fanned after a few Stoke players – mainly Thomas Sorenson – accused Arsenal of having no backbone when Arsenal lost, and Wenger retorted with this comment:
“The only intention is to hurt you and I can show some tackles where I can prove what I say,“
Just two years later in 2010 Wenger’s words came back to haunt him as Aaron Ramsey suffered a horrific injury that could have ended his career as a tackle from Ryan Shawcross went horribly wrong. During the game you could see that Shawcross was genuinely upset after realising the extent of the damage his tackle had caused but the damage was done and when Stoke returned to the Emirates a few months later Shawcross got heavily abused for the incident and thus the rivalry ensued.
Both sets of fans weren’t encouraged by their clubs managers but their behaviour didn’t help when they started their own war of words via the media when discussing the boos and abuse exchanged between the fans. Wenger accused Stoke of sticking by their player no matter what and in turn Pulis said the abuse was just subject to him and that everyone suffers it.
Later on that year Wenger compared Stoke to a rugby team and it led to the club making an official complaint to the FA and Pulis admitting that there was no love lost between the two when speaking to a reporter.
“I don’t give a damn what he [Wenger] says. We don’t talk. I don’t know the fella – but if he criticises this club for whatever reason then you have to stand up for yourself. My message to the fans is to respect our opponents like we always do.”
The atmosphere has never improved between the two clubs but over the last year it was made worse by leaflet campaign aimed at tormenting Ramsey when he played his first game at Stoke since the injury. It was the infamous game of when Ramsey scored and made the shush gesture in front of the Stoke fans that caused them to come up with the idea of chanting and clapping during the 67th minute.
It remains to be seen whether the antagonistic nature between these two clubs will ever subside in the future but for now it still exists and will most likely be ever present when Arsenal host Stoke at the Emirates this weekend.
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