While a lot of Arsenal fans were complaining about the performance of the referee Martin Atkinson after he awarded a debatable penalty kick to the Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy yesterday, his manager Claudio Ranieri was talking about the official for a completely different reason.
The Italian suggested in his post match comments reported by Sky Sports that Mister Atkinson not only cost his side a point but all three as he felt that they were going to go on and win the match until the ref showed two yellow cards to the Leicester right back Danny Simpson. Ranieri also claimed that both bookings were harsh and although he did not do too much complaining he did suggest that this was the turning point of the game and hence that Arsenal had been lucky.
The Leicester boss said, “It was a fantastic match, very fast, too many fouls, I don’t know in a normal match if our two yellow cards were a sending off. Two normal fouls, but not for a yellow card. I think the referee was a bit more severe against us at that point.
“They were two fouls, but not two yellow cards. But that is OK. It was a great match. I am sure 11v11, we win the match. So, it’s OK. The match was full of fouls, so why send off a player?”
So is he right? Not on your Nellie! No Claudio you were not hard done to and if anything it was Arsenal that got the rough deal and do not just take my admittedly pro-Arsenal word for it. As usual Sky Sports have had the former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher look over the controversial decisions of the weekend and he came down firmly on the side of the Gunners.
Not only did Gallagher back the double yellow for Simpson, he also said that Drinkwater should have joined him for an early bath for that awful studs up and high tackle on Ramsey. Amazingly enough there will be no retrospective action because Atkinson saw it. And to really show that Ranieri was wrong the former ref also said that they should never have had a penalty as the useless Atkinson should have blown for a free kick to Ozil in the build up.
He said, “Foul on Ozil to begin with, and foul on Vardy for the penalty.
“I think that is a foul by Morgan on Ozil. But what I would say is that this is a great example as to why technology would be very difficult to bring in, because there are three incidents in this build-up: the foul on Ozil; the Koscielny foul advantage and the penalty.
“Both yellow cards? Yes. For the first one he has blocked Sanchez off, Sanchez would have got around him, continued his run and maybe crossed the ball. It’s what you would call ‘taking one for the team’.
“For the second one, there’s no need to do this, when you start pulling shirts back it’s not the wisest decision to make and it didn’t give the referee much option.
“[Drinkwater tackle is] a red card to be honest. I don’t know why the referee hasn’t given it. If he sees it at that angle, it’s not one I can defend. It’s a red card offence that has gone undetected.”
So instead of moaning Ranieri should be thanking the referee for helping his team yesterday and that is not even taking into account the possible earlier yellow cards that both Simpson and Drinkwater could have been shown. Once again Arsenal did not get a level playing field from the officials but at least it did not cost us this time.