Mark Halsey column: Granit Xhaka and Arsenal can have no complaints after serious foul play challenge

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I think you’ve got to say what on earth was Granit Xhaka doing making a challenge of that nature in that part of the field in the Man City v Arsenal game on Saturday. He’s got experience and should know much, much better than that.

What you’ve got to think about in those situations is that a player that challenges or lunges with one or two feet off the ground, from the front, from the side or from behind, that endangers an opponents safety with excessive force, it leaves the referee with no choice but to send the player off for serious foul play.

From where Martin (Atkinson) was, it looked a poor challenge, and the Manchester City player had to take evasive action.

Had he not, he could’ve suffered a serious injury.

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Had Martin shown a yellow card for a ‘reckless’ challenge, it would’ve been interesting to see if VAR would’ve recommended a review.

Frankly, Xhaka and Arsenal can have no complaints.

Former Premier League and FIFA referee Mark Halsey is a columnist for

Another situation which arose this weekend came when a Brentford goal was disallowed after a player challenged Aston Villa’s goalkeeper as he threw the ball in the air.

The ball is still deemed to be in the goalkeeper’s control until he’s kicked it, so you can’t challenge for the ball why it’s still in his control.

Once again, it was the correct decision (to award an indirect free-kick).

There were some good VAR implementations on Saturday for penalty decisions too.

Clear and obvious at Newcastle? Yes it was. The one at Norwich was subjective, but had VAR not been involved I still don’t think there would’ve been too many complaints.

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1 Comment

  1. I agree with you Mark on the Xhaka red card, it’s the kind of thoughtless action that you know is coming with Granit, it’s a matter of when, not if!!

    I think what upsets arsenal fans more is the punch in the face Callum Chambers receives defending a corner. I’ve heard all the pundits saying he shouldn’t gamble and go down (in my day etc etc) but it’s a clear strike in the face, careless at best, a red card at worst. Compare the incident to Azpilicueta winning a free kick for Chelsea from a corner in the dying minutes of the Liverpool game after what can beat described as a tussle (6 of one maybe) that Azpilicueta seemed like he was trying to engineer from the off. One is a free kick, the other is ‘below the threshold for VAR’. Not sure where the threshold is set but potential violent conduct must be reviewed surely?

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