Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey believes Crystal Palace midfielder James McArthur was “extremely lucky” not to be sent off against Arsenal last night for a challenge on Bukayo Saka.
Patrick Vieira’s side managed an impressive 2-2 draw at the Emirates Stadium, with Arsenal relying on a scrappy stoppage time equaliser from Alexandre Lacazette to come away with a point.
Still, Palace were perhaps a little fortunate as McArthur shouldn’t have been allowed to carry on after some aggressive tackling, Halsey told CaughtOffside.
“James McArthur was extremely lucky not to receive a red card for a wild kick on Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka,” Halsey said.
“The Crystal Palace midfielder was late on the challenge, had no chance of winning the ball and booted Saka in his right calf at the end of the first half.
“Mike Dean showed McArthur a yellow card but I felt it was an act of violent conduct and further punishment could have been dished out to the Scotsman. As a result, Saka was forced off at half-time and later had an ice pack on his leg.
“McArthur was also fortunate not to be cautioned earlier in the half for denying Emile Smith Rowe a promising attack at the Emirates.
“Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal and Saka could have felt aggrieved as Dean showed inconsistency by later producing a yellow card to the wide-man for the same offence on Jordan Ayew.”
See below for a GIF of the incident, which certainly looks like it deserved a stronger punishment…
Yes, this should have been a red card for McArthur after aiming at Saka's calf and injuring him in the process. pic.twitter.com/VMHC3LFlwF
— Has the Referee or VAR made a poor decision? (@PoorEPLreferees) October 18, 2021
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta can feel hard done by here, though the Spanish tactician has other concerns as well.
The Gunners should be doing better against opposition like this, and their defence simply wasn’t good enough considering the money they’ve spent on it.
Recent signings like Thomas Partey and Albert Sambi Lokonga were also found wanting at key moments, with Palace generally good value for the draw.
Gooners will hope Saka is back soon, however, and that in future their players get a bit more protection from match officials.