Martin Keown defends Nemaja Matic over controversial red card incident

The former Arsenal defender has backed the Chelsea man for his reaction, but accepts players can't react in that manner.

Arsenal legend Martin Keown has defended Nemanja Matic over his controversial red card incident in the Daily Mail.

The Chelsea midfielder was sent off after retaliating to a challenge from Burnley forward Ashley Barnes during Saturday’s Premier League clash.

The Burnley man had committed a high and reckless challenge on the Serbian midfielder, with the latter responding by pushing Barnes to the ground. As mentioned, he was punished for the incident, although Barnes wasn’t penalised by referee Martin Atkinson.

Keown, though, has defended Matic and his reaction, saying it seems unfair he was sent off, although he does admit that players cannot react in that manner.

“It was a terrible tackle and I would expect Matic to be angry,” Keown responded to the subject in his Daily Mail column.

“I think you have to allow someone the emotion to react, to a certain extent, but it has cost him a place in Sunday’s cup final. It seems unfair, as he could've had his leg broken. But he has to know that you can’t do that. He should have just laid on the pitch.”

The defender turned pundit has instead given his take on what he would have done if it were him who had been on the end of Barnes’ tackle, suggesting that he would have left it up to the officials to sort out the situation for themselves.

He also cites an incident from his own career involving former Chelsea man Nigel Spackman and how his reaction ended up with the referee making the right decision.

“I don’t think I would've reacted the same as Matic, I would have stayed on the floor, pointing at my leg in exasperated fashion, hoping the officials would sort out the situation,” added Keown.

“One time when we played Chelsea, Nigel Spackman punched me on the back of the head so hard I felt his knuckles. My first thought was to clump him back, but I quickly changed my mind and went down and he was sent off.”

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