Early Doors

City should appeal Kompany red

In light of the build-up to yesterday's match between Arsenal and Manchester City it was rather unfortunate that the £62 game effectively lasted only nine minutes.

That was how long it took for Laurent Koscielny to convince himself he was Hunter from Gladiators and leap all over Edin Dzeko as if he was trying to tear him to ground in a round of Hang Tough.

When Mike Dean rightly produced a red card from his back pocket, that was it done. Everyone knew that a brittle Arsenal would collapse - it was just a question of how long it would take. Twelve minutes later, following some typically inattentive defending from a free-kick, James Milner ran free to smash home a brilliant shot, and that was that.

But if City's fans were robbed of any real suspense after parting with £62, they did at least have some controversy to consider while chomping down on an Upper Crust sandwich on their Virgin trains back to Manchester.

With quarter of an hour remaining, City's players and manager Roberto Mancini were left infuriated by referee Mike Dean's decision to send off Vincent Kompany for a rather lusty challenge on Jack Wilshere in the second half.

Reaction to the tackle, as ever, has been split down two lines.

The first school of thought says Kompany clearly won the ball and these kind of tackles used to be widespread before the game was excessively sanitised by namby-pamby, health-and-safety advocates.

The fear that football will soon be a non-contact sport is summed up best by Alan Hansen, who writes in the Telegraph: "If Manchester City fail to get Vincent Kompany’s red card against Arsenal rescinded by the Football Association on Monday morning, it will send out the message that tackling has gone forever."

The second school of thought says any player who leaves the ground with both feet up and doesn't expect to be shown a red card is an idiot, and that going in uncontrolled in such a manner is a dangerous act.

Early Doors was in attendance at Emirates Stadium yesterday and had a clear, side-on view to the incident. It looked 50-50 on first glance, but replays show Kompany was rather hard by. He got to the ball well ahead of Wilshere and it wasn't a genuine two-footed challenge, more one-and-a-half - if such a thing is possible.

Kompany wasted little time in advancing his cause on Twitter, posting screenshots and explaining his actions, and City say they are going to appeal against the red card, which as it stands will leave their captain banned for three games as City try to cut United's seven-point lead at the top of the table.

Conducting what must be the first appeal via Twitpic, Kompany also wrote: "First. Massive congrats to our team and fans, great game! Also. No grudges against the referee, I understand the difficulty of the job. :-)

"About the tackle: If the ball is overrun by the opponent and a 50/50 challenge occurs, collision is inevitable.

"Ultimately I'm a defender: Appeal may work or not. I will never pull out of a challenge, as much as I will never intend to injury a player."

City will press on with their appeal despite the knowledge that the Football Association could impose an extra game's ban if it terms the appeal to be frivolous.

The fear of such an outcome prevented Fulham from appealing against a very similar dismissal when their captain Brede Hangeland saw red for a two-footed challenge against Sunderland, though City clearly feel more emboldened in their case.

After a night's sleep, and with the excess adrenalin and testosterone flushing out of his body following a hectic, chaotic game, Mancini might come to the decision that an appeal has only a small chance of succeeding.

City will lose Kompany for Fulham and QPR in the league and Palace or Stoke in the cup - should they also risk being without him when Luis Suarez and Liverpool come to town at the start of February?

It is a tough balancing act. The FA is known to stick with its referees, by and large, but ED believes there is a sufficiently large grey area that any appeal would not be construed as frivolous, meaning it's certainly worth a go.

Mancini was certainly forceful in his belief that Kompany was wronged. The Italian said: “He went into the tackle, anticipating the opponent, and took the ball. I don’t know how it is possible to get a red card like this. It was no foul, no red card. From the bench, it was difficult [to judge] but I have seen it again.

“Against United [when Kompany was sent off for a similar challenge on Nani], it was not a red card for me, because he was also anticipating. Here, he was a minimum of 50 centimetres from the opponent. This tackle is football. He went in with one foot. That is a tackle. If it was a red card, I would say. But it was not a red card, because he anticipated Wilshere. Totally, 100 per cent.”

The FA's opinion is likely to be more nuanced, but it will be in City's interests to take the case on in any case.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: “They paid 62 quid over there, go and see them.” - Linesman John Brooks speaks up for the common man when telling Joleon Lescott to go and applaud the Manchester City fans who did make the trip to Arsenal. City returned 912 unsold tickets.

FOREIGN VIEW: Barcelona set a new record last night following a 3-1 win away at Malaga as they moved onto 55 points from their first 19 games of the season. No other side has dropped only two points in the first half of the season and Barca now lead Real Madrid by 18 points and Atletico Madrid by 11.

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