In a match that ended in victory for Arsenal against Manchester City, former referee Mark Clattenburg writes that midfielder Mateo Kovacic and referee Michael Oliver should consider themselves fortunate.
In his column for the Daily Mail, Clattenburg suggests that Kovacic could have been shown a red card twice during the course of the game.
“Mateo Kovacic is a very lucky boy and so is referee Michael Oliver, given Arsenal went on to win regardless of Manchester City keeping all 11 men on the pitch,” Clattenburg wrote.
Kovacic’s second incident involved a late tackle on Declan Rice, for which Clattenburg believes a second yellow card could easily have been warranted.
According to commentary on BBC MOTD2 on Sunday night, Oliver claimed that Rice’s foot had went into Kovacic as much as the other way around.
Matches between the ‘Big Six’ Premier League teams are often ’emotionally charged’ and include a range of ‘hot-blooded challenges’, noted Clattenburg.
He speculates that the nature of these high-stakes games may have been considered by the match officials when making their decisions.
However, Clattenburg suggests that Oliver would likely have faced significant scrutiny during the international break if it weren’t for Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli sealing the win with a late goal.
Oliver, you may remember, sent Gabriel Martinelli off for two quick-fire yellow cards in the same passage of play, a decision Mikel Arteta said at the time you had to ‘really want’ to give.
It was the same here.
Oliver had to really NOT want to give a red card to the City man, so he just didn’t.
Seems fair, right?