In the Brighton vs Arsenal game, Neil Maupay’s unnecessary challenge on Arsenal’s Bernd Leno should have merited a yellow card, but it was decided that there was no intent. At the final whistle, Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi grabbed Maupay by the throat and was needed to be pulled away by his teammates.
Proving intent is like looking at the clouds and predicting the weather. You only really know it’s going to rain some days when you get wet going to the car.
The incident between Maupay and Leno showed that the Brighton man’s actions were ill-conceived and incredibly reckless. His actions could be interpreted as harmful or presenting a risk to a fellow professional and if that’s the case, it’s a yellow card minimum.
The rules are:
A goalkeeper cannot be challenged by an opponent when in control of the ball with his/her hand(s). Playing in a dangerous manner is any action that, while trying to play the ball, threatens injury to someone (including the player them-self) and includes preventing a nearby opponent from playing the ball for fear of injury.
Mmm, Maupay could almost wriggle free on a technicality. But what about these two laws from the FA.
1. SERIOUS FOUL PLAY:
A tackle or challenge that endangers the safety of an opponent or uses excessive force or brutality must be sanctioned as serious foul play.
Any player who lunges at an opponent in challenging for the ball from the front, from the side or from behind using one or both legs, with excessive force or endangers the safety of an opponent is guilty of serious foul play.
2. VIOLENT CONDUCT:
Violent conduct is when a player uses or attempts to use excessive force or brutality against an opponent when not challenging for the ball, or against a team-mate, team official, match official, spectator or any other person, regardless of whether contact is made.
Also, a player who, when not challenging for the ball, deliberately strikes an opponent or any other person on the head or face with the hand or arm, is guilty of violent conduct unless the force used was negligible.
So, the laws that govern the game are a little inconclusive on this occasion but perhaps, the referee should have assumed responsibility by making a firm decision by producing a card, yellow or red? You make your mind up.
The Independent said if the incident:
“Replays showed Maupay appearing to knock Leno off balance as they came together, but there seemed little malice in the challenge.”
However, Goal.com remarked:
“Replays showed Maupay had barged into Leno after the former Bayer Leverkusen keeper had claimed the ball, which meant the Gunners’ number one was off-balance as he planted his foot.”
So, was the challenge lawful for a ball that the opposition player was always going to be second best for? The deed went unpunished and the villain of the drama went on to win the game.
Afterward, the repercussions continued with Matteo Guendouzi placing a hand on the Brighton forward’s throat/neck which resulted in Maupay falling to the floor like he’d been shot. There were accusations, gestures, and colourful language as both sides left the field and Guendouzi had to be chaperoned to the tunnel entrance.
It was suggested after the match that the young French midfielder will face suspension, but how does that work in the light of what didn’t occur on the pitch with the Arsenal goalkeeper sidelined for months?
I’m not saying Guendouzi should not be suspended for his rash actions on Maupay after the final whistle, but let’s have some consistency. Leno himself was incensed by the challenge and indulged in a fair amount of finger-wagging at the Brighton man as he left the field of play. As soon as the incident took place, fans feared that their German keeper would not be able to stay on the pitch.
However, FA have decided not to charge Matteo Guendouzi with suspension for his role in the fracas. This comes as a piece of rare good news for the already troubled Gunners and FA issued warnings to both the clubs for the incident.
It was a horrible way to end the season in only his second match in the rebooted campaign. Maupay then added further fuel to the fire with his misguided comments at the end of the match:
“I’ve been through a bad injury so I know it’s hard but I never meant to hurt him. But some of the Arsenal players need to learn humility maybe sometimes. They’ve been talking a lot first half, second half when they were 1-0 up – they got what they deserved.”
Bernd Leno has been Arsenal’s most consistent performer for some time now and he didn’t deserve what Neal Maupay dished out. If the FA had decided to suspend Guendouzi, then, how Leno was injured by Neal Maupay should have been noted and also take into account his inflammatory remarks which could be open to negative interpretation.