After a horror gaffe by referee Andre Marriner in Chelsea’s 6-0 demolition of Arsenal last night, the experienced referee has expressed his regret at the error:
“Andre is an experienced referee and is obviously disappointed that an error of mistaken identity was made in this case.
“Incidents of mistaken identity are very rare and are often the result of a number of different technical factors.
“Whilst this was a difficult decision, Andre is disappointed that he failed to identify the correct player. He expressed his disappointment to Arsenal when he was made aware of the issue.”
The statement released by the Game Match Officials Board will come as little consolation to Arsenal fans who almost certainly saw their title chances fade to zero at Stamford Bridge last night. The mistaken identity, while embarrassing, was only one of a serious of problems that Wenger’s men faced, and the 2-0 score line after 7 minutes meant that the game was almost certainly beyond them when the incident occurred.
One can only speculate as to what was going through Chamberlain’s mind when he launched himself into the path of Eden Hazard’s shot (which was going wide, replays confirm) and palmed the ball around the post. After match referee Marriner dismissed Kieran Gibbs, mistakenly thinking he was responsible for the handball, questions were immediately raised regarding retrospective action by the officials regarding the associated 2 match ban for a red card offence.
Searches for precedent in such cases reveal the curious incident that took place in November last year, when Preston’s Neil Kilkenny was wrongly dismissed under similar circumstances. In that case, the FA retrospectively lifted the charges on Kilkenny, and banned Joe Garner (the actual offender).
This will be salt into the wounds of Arsenal fans, who could now be without Chamberlain for a further 2 matches. In an already injured ravaged midfield, this puts the Gunners down to bare bones to fill positions in the middle of the park.