Arsenal went to the Etihad at the weekend as massive underdogs, and it was bad enough that they were two goals down within the first 20 minutes, from Man City’s first two attempts on goal as well.
But that was made even worse when suddenly Granit Xhaka decided to go for a two-footed sliding tackle on João Cancelo when the Gunners were trying to get back into the match.
This left Arsenal with ten men, and no possible chance to stage an unlikely comeback against the EPL Champions.
Many Arsenal fans were incensed that Xhaka was given a straight red, and argued that he didn’t even make contact with the Man City star, but according to the extremely experienced now-retired referee Mike Halsey, the Swiss captain can have no complaints about the punishment.
Halsey said in his column in CaughtOffside: “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.
“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.”
The fact is that Xhaka should have known better, considering the amount of times he has been carded for similar offences. Even Arsene Wenger famously admitted that had instructed Xhaka to stay on his feet many years ago, but it seems that sometimes Xhaka simply can’t stop himself…