Trevor Sinclair believes Mikel Arteta should take a leaf out of Patrick Vieira’s book after the Arsenal manager bemoaned the lack of a red card for James McArthur in the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace last night, speaking to talkSPORT (19 October, 9am).
Was the Arsenal manager looking to distract attention from what was, ultimately, a poor performance by his expensively assembled side on Monday night? The old ‘Sir Alex swerve’?
Or did he really think the visitors should have been reduced to ten men with more than half the match remaining?
Speaking after a game in which Arsenal were given the runaround for long spells by a Crystal Palace side still getting used to Vieira’s way of doing things, Arteta took his frustration out on referee Mike Dean, insisting McArthur should have been shown a straight red card just before the interval.
While attempting to volley a dipping ball, McArthur slammed his right boot into the back of Bukayo Saka’s leg, forcing the England international off the pitch and on to the treatment table.
But Sinclair, the former Manchester City and West Ham United winger, believes Arteta would be better served focusing on his own side’s performance rather than courting controversy after two more dropped points.
Did James McArthur get lucky for Crystal Palace against Arsenal?
“I think a red would be harsh. The ball is dropping out of the air, (McArthur) must be able to see him in his peripheral vision – but we can’t be 100 per cent sure. He looks like he’s trying to volley the ball,” says Sinclair.
“It’s a poor challenge but it’s kind of an amber (card) for me. I don’t think it’s a red. It’s not like his studs are up and its dangerous play. Does that not stink of Arteta’s desperation for excuses (wanting a red card)?”
Conversely, Sinclair was impressed by Vieira’s post-match attitude, especially as Palace conceded an equaliser in time added on.
“(Vieira’s) team played really well and I was listening to him saying ‘we switched off, we need to concentrate better’.
“He didn’t say: ‘There were 40 or 45 seconds extra time added on.’ He didn’t look for excuses. I think that tells you a lot about the man. He is keeping it real. Arteta’s saying it should be a red. He’s looking for excuses.”
The result, secured by a last-gasp Alexandre Lacazette equaliser, leaves Arsenal 12th in the Premier League table, just two places ahead of Palace.