Early Doors

Referee sends off Gibbs for Oxlade-Chamberlain handball in Chelsea-Arsenal

Early Doors

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Arsenal's Kieran Gibbs is shown a red card by referee Andre Marriner

Arsene Wenger's 1000th game in charge of Arsenal did not, it's fair to say, get off to the start that the Frenchman might have wished for.

The Gunners went 2-0 down inside the opening 10 minutes - but from there it went from bad to farcical as they had a man sent off in circumstances which are hard to believe. Make that almost impossible to believe; but luckily the game was being beamed around the world.

When Eden Hazard tried to poke the ball in during the 16th minute he comfortably beat Wojciech Szczęsny in the Arsenal goal - but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain took it upon himself to step in and save his team from going 3-0 down by pulling out a diving save.

In a way, you can see where The Ox is coming from. 2-0 down is bad, but 3-0 down is certain doom, so perhaps he thought he'd take one for his team-mates and try to keep Arsenal in the match. A bit like Luis Suarez at the 2010 World Cup, you might say, except that back then Suarez's save came deep in extra time, and paid dividends as Ghana missed the resulting penalty.

Referee Andre Marriner blew up instantly and, as you might expect, stepped forward pulling his red card from his pocket, as the law dictates he must in order to punish a professional foul that prevented a near-certain goal.

Yet astonishingly, Marriner showed the card to an understandably baffled Kieran Gibbs instead of Oxlade-Chamberlain. Gibbs tried to explain that'd he'd had no part in the matter - in fact he had his hands tucked behind his back as the Ox made his sprawling stop.

To his credit Oxlade-Chamberlain quickly stepped up to inform Marriner that he was the guilty party, telling the ref: "It was me."

But Marriner was having none of it, and stuck to his Gunners - a crazy decision which has already made him the butt of countless jokes on Twitter.

That's not even the end of the cock-ups, incidentally. As the replay shows, the original shot was actually substantially off target in any case, a fact that adds several further layers of insanity: the Ox's sacrifice was in vain, and served only to gift Chelsea a penalty that they duly dispatched to go 3-0 ahead; and Marriner should not have shown a red card, since the foul did not prevent a goal.

So while Wenger's landmark match went worse than he could have nightmared of, at least he won't be on his own feeling like a fool as he muses over the game on Saturday night.

Poor old Marriner admitted as early as half-time that he had blundered - and there's every chance he will have plenty of time to ponder his mistake if he is dropped from forthcoming Premier League games.

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