Arsenal vs Leicester: Did the referee get it right?

Written by Josh Andrews

July 8, 2020

Last night, Arsenal hosted Leicester at the Emirates in a game that ended 1-1. A beautiful pass from Dani Ceballos put Bukayo Saka in prime position to set up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the opening goal. Jamie Vardy equalised late on to make it 1-1, but the real talking point of the game has been 2 major refereeing decisions.

First of all, in the 45th minute, Jamie Vardy’s boot caught Shkodran Mustafi in the side of his head and the referee Chris Kavanagh didn’t even give a foul. VAR didn’t appear to review the incident either.

Also, in the 75th minute, Eddie Nketiah was sent off for a mistimed challenge on Leicester defender James Justin. Arsenal have appealed to get Nketiah’s ban overturned.

To be clear, Arsenal had enough chances to score and secure the game before either of those incidents but it is understandable why Arsenal fans would be upset at the referees today. But what does the letter of the law have to say about the challenges?

According to IFAB’s “Laws Of The Game”, serious foul play is defined as a tackle or challenge that endangers the safety of an opponent or uses excessive force or brutality must be sanctioned as serious foul play. Any player who lunges at an opponent in challenging for the ball from the front, from the side or from behind using one or both legs, with excessive force or endangers the safety of an opponent is guilty of serious foul play. Serious foul play is also considered a sending off offence.

Regarding the Vardy incident, it’s hard to argue that a boot hitting somebody in the face is endangering the safety of an opponent. It is understandable of course for Chris Kavanagh to miss this, but VAR did not appear advise Kavanagh to send Vardy off or to review the incident himself – like he did with Nketiah’s incident later in the game.

The FA appeals process will determine whether Nketiah’s red card will be upheld, although reports suggest Vardy will likely escape punishment for his challenge. Should Vardy be reprimanded? Should Nketiah’s ban be upheld?

Photo: cfcunofficial (2017)



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