Tackling has moved to the top of the Premier League agenda this week after Fulham's
In the meantime, of course, Manchester United's
"I love the way the game is played in England with one proviso: full commitment but always in getting the ball," Wenger told reporters. "The English game becomes dangerous when players try to hurt each other. ... Do you want to see [
Wenger's stance has drawn stinging criticism from Blackburn manager
Statistically, no. Two in the space of a few days is eye-catching, but it's too soon to start suggesting that each week or even each month might bring a couple of more. "If you look at the stats," said
Smith and Diaby were joined in 2005-06, a particularly bad year, by
You have to go back to 1996 for what remains the most horrific leg break in (certainly British) soccer: Manchester United goalkeeper
Busst never played soccer again. Neither did Chelsea's
This grisly, whistle-stop tour of history isn't meant to suggest that we shouldn't worry about serious injury, but rather to establish that, despite the current fretting, soccer hasn't suddenly become more lethal. Although
Which is doubtful, as anyone who was at the 1952 FA Cup matches between Leeds United and Chelsea will tell you. The tie went to two replays, and the tackles had flown in so hard that the Londoners were forced to make seven changes for the second of them. The battle was reprised in the 1970 final, when Chelsea's
Wenger's concerns about safety are not illegitimate (though his sense of persecution is perhaps misplaced; as manager of Blackburn in 2007,
All this proves, you may argue, is that soccer has always been a violent sport, but that that doesn't make it right. Perhaps. But soccer is a
Some of the worst breaks over the years, including Busst's,
This week's debate isn't actually new -- almost 10 years ago, Chelsea's
"At Lille, when a player gets injured we look at the footwear, but we've not really found any patterns," Carling said. "It would be interesting to know how many players are wearing the same footwear as Valencia and not getting injured."
Carling speaks with a scientist's detachment. Facts and figures count.
"On average, a professional soccer team will have about eight serious injuries over the course of a season," he said. "If you think of the amount of time players train, and how many games they play, it's actually not very much."
His research has also found no link between fixture congestion and injury risk.
"A lot of clubs do prevention training, strength training, etc., and it will reduce the overall number of injuries. But the number of serious injuries is still the same, because a lot of it's down to bad luck."
For all his railing at the roughhousing of his players, Wenger has admitted that his men also make bad tackles (as