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Aleksandar Mitrovic at fault for narrow defeat to Arsenal following wild tackle

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Premier League referee Andre Marriner has once again found himself at the centre of controversy following his decision to dismiss Aleksandar Mitrovic during Newcastle's 1-0 loss to Arsenal on Saturday.

The English official, like all referees, has endured his fair share of criticism throughout his time in the Premier League, with a particular incident involving the sending off of Kieran Gibbs instead of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who appeared to palm the ball off the goal line during Arsenal's 6-0 capitulation to Chelsea two seasons ago.

Saturday was yet another eventful afternoon for Marriner who handed out a total of seven yellow cards and one red. Needless to say he was an unpopular figure with the home supporters, as six of those yellow cards went to the Magpies.

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This, along with Mitrovic's 15th-minute red card, left Newcastle fans and manager Steve McClaren feeling hard done by. However, Marriner was not to blame for this defeat - far from it.

Newcastle manager Steve McClaren said it himself back in July that his new Serbian striker would prove to be a 'bit of a devil'. So far the 20-year-old has lived up to his reputation. The youngster took a mere three seconds to receive a booking on his debut against Swansea and the following week was cautioned just 90 seconds after taking to the field.

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This was always going to be a difficult game for Newcastle, against Arsenal, and even with eleven players very few saw them getting anything out of the game. Unfortunately for Newcastle fans and the neutrals this game was ended as a contest after just a quarter of an hour.

Mitrovic was given his marching orders by Marriner after a rash challenge on Francis Coquelin, stamping downwards onto the Frenchman's ankle, and frankly gave Marriner very little other choice.

From that point onwards Newcastle were on the back foot, and whilst defending well were unable to keep the Gunners out with Fabio Coloccini's 52nd-minute own goal ultimately the decider.

Mitrovic's Newcastle record, therefore, now reads: 131 minutes played, 6 fouls, 2 yellow cards, 1 red card and 0 goals - far than ideal for a player who cost £13 million. There's no doubting the Serbian's talent - he managed 27 goals in all competitions last season - but his discipline is quite clearly an issue. The fact that his total number of career red cards is just one less than Vinnie Jones tells the whole story.

Unsurprisingly, the home supporters were not happy when their striker was shown an early red card. St James' Park erupted with a chorus of boos aimed at Marriner, but by the letter of the law, he got it absolutely right when he dismissed the Serbian.

There can be no doubt that Coquelin made the most of the challenge but this does not excuse Mitrovic's actions. You can understand why the supporters feel aggrieved as worse challenges have gone unpunished down the years, but this is not a debate about referee consistency. The fact is that the striker went in with his studs up and followed through after the ball was gone.

On first viewing it was fairly innocuous and nothing more than a yellow card offence; on second viewing you can see why the red card came out. It was a nasty attempt to win the ball by a player who has already shown his aggression this season.

This was a moment of stupidity from a young man who is no doubt desperate to impress, and on another day he might have got away with it, but the fact of the matter is that Marriner got this decision absolutely right and any criticism is unwarranted.

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Topics:
Newcastle United
Football
Premier League

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