Mark Clattenburg, a former Premier League referee, has defended Michael Oliver for not sending off Ruben Dias against Arsenal..
Manchester City had just taken a 2-0 lead over Arsenal in Wednesday’s Premier League title clash. Dias challenged Arsenal defender Ben White near the corner flag in a physical battle that left the City star on the ground.
The Portugal international appeared to kick out into the back of White’s knee while on the ground. Oliver awarded Arsenal a free-kick and showed Dias a yellow card, his third in the league this season, though the Gunners felt he deserved a harsher punishment.
The incident was reviewed by Video Assistant Referee David Coote, who saw no reason to upgrade Dias’ punishment to a red card. Clattenburg, a Premier League referee for 13 years, also supported Oliver’s decision.
Clattenburg revealed that Coote was most likely looking at the amount of force Dias used in his kick at White. The former referee insisted that the defender used little actual force and that a booking was the correct call.
“I believe what they did was look for a possible red card.”
Was there any force used by Ruben Dias in the challenge with the kick out to Ben White? He didn’t, it was more of a petulant kick, so the VAR was correct in determining it was a yellow card offense,” he told BT Sport.
Dias played the entire 90 minutes at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night, avoiding a second yellow card. However, his team did concede a late goal, with Rob Holding scoring a consolation for the visitors.
City had essentially secured a crucial three points in the title race by that point. Kevin De Bruyne scored after only seven minutes, breaking forward from midfield and firing low past Aaron Ramsdale.
Just before halftime, Pep Guardiola’s team doubled their lead when John Stones headed in from De Bruyne’s free kick. That goal had to be reviewed by VAR before Coote was called in to investigate the Dias-White incident.
Erling Haaland squared a pass to De Bruyne, who scored his second goal of the evening nine minutes after the break. And the Norwegian striker sealed the victory in stoppage time by firing home.
Arsenal’s annoyance reached a boiling point after Oliver blew for full-time after White collided with City substitute Phil Foden. They may have believed that if Dias had not stayed on the field, things would have turned out differently.
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