Saturday, February 23, 2008

Arsene Wenger Wants Lifetime Ban for Taylor

In the words of José Mourinho's puppet character on "I'm On Setanta Sports", shut up, Wenger.

For those of you who haven't seen the gruesome pictures or seen video, Arsenal front man Eduardo da Silva had his left leg nearly snapped at the ankle after a sliding challenge from Birmingham defender Martin Taylor. It took nearly ten minutes for trainers and medical staff to get da Silva off the field, and all reports indicate the Croatian has a badly broken leg. It didn't exactly take a genius to come to that conclusion as anyone who has seen what happened could diagnose the injury instantly.

It would be irresponsible at this point to speculate as to how long da Silva will be out, but Arsene Wenger has said that "His injury is very, very bad. More than the season is over."

The Frenchman also said "This guy (Taylor) should never play football again. What is he doing on the football pitch?"

"I've gone along with the idea for a long time that to stop Arsenal, you have to kick Arsenal. I knew that was coming for a long time now."

Here's where I have a problem with Wenger. There is simply no way Taylor is going to get a lifetime ban, no way. There was no malice whatsoever in the challenge, no intent to injure like we've seen in the past with some of Roy Keane's attacks on opponents when he was still a player. On the match broadcast, play-by-play man Jon Champion even said he wasn't sure if Taylor should've been sent off.

Personally, I thought it was a red card and the automatic three-match ban that comes with it is deserved. Anything more than that would really be harsh on Taylor because the reality is that this was just a freak incident. It was a mis-timed, late tackle. I've seen numerous tackles similar to this one in the past that haven't even been red-carded. I think it's wrong for Wenger to call for a lifetime ban for Taylor simply based on the extent of the injury to da Silva.

It's not as if Taylor is a repeat offender and has a reputation for causing incidents like this. He showed remorse immediately after the challenge; as Birmingham boss Alex McLeish said, "Martin's distraught about the lad's injury. It's certainly not in Martin Taylor's make-up at all to commit a malicious tackle."

In the NHL, a player can be given a two-minute penalty for high-sticking if he gets his stick in an opponent's face and makes contact, but four minutes if that same incident draws blood. That's just ridiculous; you can't additionally penalize something because of a freak injury, or drawn blood in the case of hockey. It's not fair to overreact to how badly someone is hurt because of a challenge, I believe you have to look at the challenge itself in a vacuum and go from there. With that said, make no mistake. I'm not condoning what Taylor did today by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm also not condemning him for it either.

If I was Arsene Wenger, who has a well-deserved reputation for being a sore loser and a whiner, I would worry about my own team instead of Martin Taylor. Wenger's star young left back, Gaël Clichy, was directly at fault for giving up Birmingham's late equalizer through his lack of focus and poor judgment and decision-making. These two points dropped could end up being what loses the title for Arsenal, yet after the game, Wenger is talking about the opposition and not saying anything about his own team.

Taylor's fate isn't in Wenger's hands; he's just wasting his time by chipping in his own two cents about the situation. I don't want to hear this man in public anymore. He doesn’t say anything chastizing or harsh when his players, like Eboue and Flamini, go in recklessly on challenges like they’ve done in the past month or so, either nearly causing or actually causing serious injury, but when someone from another team does the same thing to a player on his team, he gets up in arms and has a fit. I’m sorry, I don’t have any time for that and it is embarrassing.

Shut up, Wenger!

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