Paul Merson defends Nemanja Matic over red-card incident

The Chelsea man was sent off for reacting to a horror tackle from Ashley Barnes but Merson has defended the midfielder.

Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson has defended Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic following his red card against Burnley, according to Sky Sports.

Matic was shown a straight red by referee Martin Atkinson after retaliating to a challenge from Burnley forward Ashley Barnes.

The Clarets man committed a high and reckless challenge on the Serbian midfielder, who was lucky not to break his leg, with the latter responding to the tackle by pushing Barnes to the ground.

Referee Atkinson then showed Matic a red card for the reaction, with Barnes failing to receive anything for his part in the drama. However, Merson has defender the midfielder for his actions.

“I just think that’s a natural reaction,” Merson told Sky Sports Soccer Saturday in his post-match reaction.

“I just think that’s a natural reaction; I don’t know what you’re supposed to do. He’s pushed him, he hasn’t punched him or anything like that, he’s just pushed him to the ground. Everybody in the world of football would have that reaction, you’re going to be frustrated.”

Poor refereeing

The former midfielder turned pundit has also criticised referee Atkinson for the role he played in the game, claiming he got the entire situation wrong.

Atkinson failed to award Chelsea two penalties that many thought were clear spot-kicks, one for a push on striker Diego Costa and another for what appeared to be a blatant handball, while he also failed to book Barnes for his reckless challenge on Branislav Ivanovic.

He did, though, book Ivanovic for complaining about the incident surrounding Matic, compounding both Chelsea and Merson’s disappointment in his officiating display.

“He had a terrible game the referee,” added Merson.

“You’ve got to use common sense, the lad [Barnes] could have broken his leg, his natural reaction is to get up and push him. He absolutely got it wrong, he’s looking straight at it; he couldn’t be in a better position. He failed to give two stonewall penalties, as well."

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