It is a matter of opinion whether the sending off yesterday of Ainsley Maitland-Niles would have made a difference to the final result, I personally think we would still have lost but no one knows for sure, it clearly did impact the game and opinion does seem to be that the sending off was harsh.
Speaking on Sky Sports Graeme Souness is firm in his opinion that it was harsh and in particular the second yellow.
Souness said, “The second one, no, very unlucky.
“Maddison’s not helped his mate there. He slips briefly, it’s a lunge, not a lot of contact when we see it from this angle, and that’s really harsh on the young man.
“Where’s he hurt him there?” Asked Souness as he watched a replay of Maddison going down in apparent pain. “He goes down holding what? Where’s the contact there?
“The referee was right on it,” said Souness. “What happens today, the players go down with a scream as well. People all around him shouting foul, so the referee’s influenced by that. For me, that’s not a yellow card.”
Former referee Mark Halsey echos the words of Souness calling the sending off unlucky and questioning the reaction of James Maddison.
Writing in the Sun Halsey said, “Ainsley Maitland-Niles was very unlucky to be sent off – and James Maddison can feel responsible.
Maddison’s reaction was poor as Maitland-Niles made no contact with his England Under-21 team-mate, but earned a second yellow card.
In real time it looks worse than it is, I would have managed that and given him a final warning.
But you can understand why Maitland-Niles received his first caution as it was a careless challenge and denied Leicester a promising attack.
It wasn’t an easy game for Michael Oliver to referee as both sets of players were niggly”.
Former Gunner Ian Wright was not as diplomatic as Souness and Halsley and feels that Maddison cheated in getting the 21-year-old sent off
“I felt sorry for Ainsley. If I’m going to be totally honest, I felt James Maddison cheated in that little scenario there, Wright said.
“Ainsley didn’t lunge at him. He came from the side and he didn’t even touch him.
“People are saying to me on Twitter that he lunged and he got what he deserved for it.
“He didn’t lunge, because Maddison wasn’t in front of him, he was to the side of him.
“So Maddison used his experience to get us down to 10 men.
My own personal opinion is that it was harsh but I do not blame James Maddison, he only did what all footballers do and milk the tackle for all it’s worth and on this occasion, he got the result he desired.
Maitland-Niles is inexperienced and that is what cost him the second yellow card, you do not lunge in like that when you have already picked up a card and I am not one to blame the referee either, he saw it in real time and reacted to that, he does not have the benefit of replays.
That said, I did think that some of the Leicester City players got away with a lot worse and that inconsistency is frustrating, to say the least.