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Feb 10, 2022 at 7.45pm UK
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Should Gabriel Martinelli have been sent off against Wolverhampton Wanderers?

:Headline: Should Gabriel Martinelli have been sent off against Wolverhampton Wanderers?:
The Sports Mole team discuss whether Michael Oliver was right to show Arsenal's Gabriel Martinelli a controversial red card against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Sports Mole

Arsenal's disciplinary issue reared its head again on Thursday night when Gabriel Martinelli received the club's fourth red card of 2022 already.

The latest sending-off came in bizarre circumstances, though, as the Brazilian received two yellow cards in the same passage of play, resulting in a red.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta admitted that he had never seen anything like it in football before, and the incident sparked fierce debate over whether Michael Oliver was right to produce the red card.

Here, the Sports Mole team join the debate and discuss whether the referee made the correct decision.

Barney Corkhill, Editor

For me, this was an extremely harsh decision by Michael Oliver. The referee can point to the letter of the law in defence of the decision, but no-one would have batted an eyelid if he only brandished one yellow card for that passage of play.

I actually agree with the principle of the decision; if someone commits two stone-wall yellow card offences in the same move then they should be liable to see red. However, for that to apply I think both decisions need to be beyond doubt - a threshold this falls well short of meeting in my opinion.

The second yellow is a cynical challenge to stop an attack and so deserves a booking, but the first is incredibly soft. Play was not affected - the throw-in was taken and the attack was launched - while the touch from Martinelli on Daniel Podence's arm was faint at worst. I suspect it was the exaggerated reaction from the Wolves player which brought the yellow card, rather than the offence itself.

From Martinelli's point of view, I highly doubt he would make the second challenge if he thought he would get a yellow card for the first one. The Arsenal striker had already turned away and was chasing back by the time Podence had started rolling around on the touchline, and so would have no reason to believe that he was already on a yellow card in Michael Oliver's head before making the second challenge.

Again, the letter of the law defends the referee's call, but ordinarily there is an unwritten law that a player should know he is on a yellow card before showing him a second one, as that affects his actions. If both yellows were blatant ones then that can perhaps be overlooked, but for me this incident falls well short of that threshold.

Fortunately for Arsenal it did not affect the final score, but this is one red card that the Gunners can feel legitimately hard done by.

Ben Knapton, Senior Reporter

In essence, Martinelli gave Michael Oliver no choice. The silky Brazilian's pressing and commitment to defending a slender lead is well-documented, but there can be no arguments against his foolish actions and subsequent early bath.

Martinelli may claim that he was unaware he would incur a booking for his first offence against Daniel Podence, but IFAB rules state that his sending off was within the laws of the game, and it is now down to Mikel Arteta to fix Arsenal's ever-alarming indiscipline.

Thankfully, Arsenal are used to playing with 10 men at this point and dug deep to hold on for the win, but as Arteta alluded to, the Gunners can only challenge for the top four with 11 men on the pitch for the rest of the season.

Darren Plant, Senior Reporter

For me, there has been a lot of needless hot air over this decision.

Was the first infringement worthy of a yellow card? Yes. Was the second infringement worthy of a yellow card? Yes. On both occasions, Martinelli attempted to halt a Wolves counter-attack without trying to win the ball. It's as simple as that.

The circumstances were bizarre, but Michael Oliver made the correct call playing the first advantage, as well as applying the law and understanding the motive of the player twice attempting to stop a break-away when his team were defending a one-goal lead.

There was a similar occurrence in the Aston Villa vs. Leeds United game on Wednesday night. Leeds committed two fouls on the halfway line in the first half, only for the referee to play advantage and Villa go on to score. Only one of the offending players was booked because of a cynical infringement, but the law was applied in the same way.

There can be no argument that Martinelli was unlucky. He was naive to think that he could get away with two separate offences.

Matthew Tranter, Reporter

My initial opinion on this is yes, simply because each offence he committed is worthy of a yellow card, so arguably it does not matter that they were within seconds of each other.

Although, it does appear to be a little harsh considering I cannot recall it happening before, but that is where many of the issues lie with the controversial refereeing decisions in this country - consistency.

There have been many occasions where I have been frustrated whilst watching a football match and have seen a situation similar to Gabriel Martinelli's - where a player has committed two offences worthy of a yellow card before play has stopped - but the referee only brandishes one.

If the scenario is applied consistently then I have no problem with Martinelli's red card, or any other of a similar nature in the future, but consistency is certainly an issue with refereeing decisions in the UK!

The other bit of sympathy that I do have with Martinelli surrounds the fact that the player must be made aware that he is about to be handed a yellow card by referee Michael Oliver, once play continues after he has committed the first offence of pushing Daniel Podence.

I believe that is in the rule book somewhere, and that it does not appear Oliver had chance to make Martinelli aware of that during the few seconds between the incidents. If he were aware, perhaps he does not make such a cynical challenge that resulted in the second yellow, and avoids getting sent off.

Joel Lefevre, Reporter

I found the Martinelli sending off to be a little harsh. I agree with the one booking on the touchline when he put his arms out impeding the throw-in, but the second one which seemed to be clearly out of frustration to me was just a foul.

I think had it been further apart and not in such quick succession it may not have been talked about so much, however the second one to me was nothing more than an offence.

As a former referee myself I believe the right thing to do in this, particularly when he was clearly agitated from losing the ball, would have been to have a chat with him, warn him and let him know to watch his tackles from now on.

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4Manchester UnitedMan Utd26137644341046
5West Ham UnitedWest Ham26126845341142
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12Aston Villa2483133137-627
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20Norwich CityNorwich2545161553-3817
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