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EPL 2016/17: Why Granit Xhaka should not have been sent off for Arsenal against Swansea

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The Swiss midfielder received his marching orders in the 70th minute

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 15: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal is shown the red card by referee Jonathan Moss during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Swansea City at Emirates Stadium on October 15, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Granit Xhaka reacted in surprise after being sent off for Arsenal

Arsenal eked out a narrow 3-2 victory over bogey side Swansea City in the Premier League tonight, their first win over the Swans at home since 2011. However, the Gunners made heavy work of the win, and that was amplified by Granit Xhaka receiving a red card in the second half, with Arsenal playing out the game with 10 men.

In the 70th minute, Modou Barrow received the ball on the right wing, turned past Xhaka on the touchline and looked set to storm off on the counter. As is customary in many situations like this, a player ‘takes one for the team’, and brings the player down cynically to prevent the counter-attack, which usually results in a yellow.

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Arsenal’s Swiss midfielder did precisely that, clipping Barrow from behind as he cynically brought him down. Xhaka even walked away in acceptance that he would receive a yellow card, but watched in horror as referee John Moss reached into his pocket and surprisingly brandished a yellow card.

It seems as though Granit Xhaka’s reputation has gone before him – the Arsenal midfielder has received 8 red cards in the last 2 and a half years, with Borussia Monchengladbach fans remembering his tendency for violence, although this challenge on Barrow barely had any malicious intent, as it was cynical.

Xhaka Barrow Arsenal Swansea

Tackling Barrow was a professional foul, not violent, and though Xhaka did tackle him from behind, there was very little damage he could have caused Barrow as he went down, with only minimal contact. John Moss perhaps reacted to Barrow’s flop in the air as he went down, which probably made the tackle look worse than it did.

Speaking after the game, Arsene Wenger disagreed with John Moss’ decision, saying “It looked harsh to me. A dark yellow. But the referee went for a bright red.” Arsenal would do well to appeal the red card, as Xhaka will likely be suspended for 1 game if Moss considered it a professional foul, or 3 if Moss felt it was a foul due to ‘violent play’.

Given that there was barely any malicious intent, and considering the tactical situation on the pitch, it is probably a good bet that FA would overturn the decision if Arsenal are to appeal.

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