Gary Neville left stunned after Gabriel Martinelli didn’t get a card for a challenge on Kaoru Mitoma
Gary Neville was left stunned during the opening stages of Arsenal’s 3-0 defeat to Brighton after Gabriel Martinelli and Moises Caicedo both failed to receive yellow cards in a spirited start at the Emirates.
The Sky Pundit was on commentary with Martin Tyler as Martinelli jumped into an aerial challenge with Brighton’s Kaoru Mitoma, ‘dangerously’ colliding with the midfielder, but was not penalized for the offense.
The Arsenal man was hacked by Brighton’s Caicedo soon after, with the Gunners midfielder appearing hurt after the challenge, but the referee again chose not to card the Brighton man for the offense.
Both were reckless challenges, with Martinelli, despite appearing to have his eyes on the ball, making contact with Mitoma’s head, sparking much discussion between Neville and Tyler in the commentary box.
“It didn’t look smart the first time, I must say,” Neville said.
Gabriel Martinell (right) clashes with Kaoru Mitoma (left) during Arsenal’s game against Brighton
The Arsenal midfielder was then hacked by Moises Caicedo (left)
Martinelli (centre) seemed to be struggling and was then substituted for Arsenal with a huge blow
Martin Tyler replied, “We’re way back, but I have to say, that’s one where you have to wait.”
“Yeah, he was never there to begin with and it wasn’t his ball. Mitoma would always win him, so anything he did would be a head-on contest. Or a shoulder or an elbow to the head. Maybe a bit of a ship,” Neville continues.
“The ball just goes up in the air and it’s [Mitoma] has his eyes on the ball. That’s not great at all.
‘Didn’t he book him? Wow. That’s incredible.
“I don’t think I would have complained if it was a red one, or have I lost my mind?”
Tyler: No, no. First reactions are always important and yours was in that direction and I saw it that way too.’
Neville watched the replay and then said, “I think that’s dangerous. I think he knows exactly what he’s doing.’
Martinelli was then knocked down by Caicedo, in an equally reckless challenge that twisted Martinelli’s ankle the wrong way, which both Neville and Tyler agreed was also a ‘certain yellow card’.
“Sometimes they come out with less experienced umpires thinking they want the game to flow,” Neville said.
“He’s decided he might want to let Martinelli’s Mitoma challenge go and then maybe even it out. I let one go, so I’m going to let another one,” Neville said.
The camera then showed Caicado’s tackle on Martinelli and Neville said bluntly, “This one isn’t pleasant either.”
Tyler added, “mess with my mate, that’s what happens.”
After a spirited start to the game, Martinelli looked sore when he got back to his feet.
But ten minutes later it appeared that he still hadn’t recovered from Caicedo’s foul and fell to the ground again before being substituted for Leandro Trossard in the 18th minute.
“He gave Mitoma a little bit and they beat him up in the last ten minutes since he did that and he looks like he needs to get off. But Caicedo’s challenge was bad. I can’t believe it wasn’t a minimal yellow card,” said Neville.
Former Man United captain Roy Keane also spoke in the studio about the incidents.
“He’s lucky,” the Sky Pundit said of Martinelli’s challenge. “Maybe he was clearly given the benefit of the doubt, maybe his personality and the position of the player.
In response, Kelly Cates, who led the discussion, said, “VAR said reckless rather than dangerous?”
“Okay…I probably disagree,” Keane said flatly. “But what a good teammate does is sometimes you need your teammate to get revenge. It’s not a good tackle, on the contrary, it looks painful – definitely past the back of the ankle and you have to get off.
“But you hope this isn’t the end of his season because he’s been excellent.”
Cates replied, “So as much as you hate Martinelli’s challenge, Caicedo’s isn’t much better?”
“No, it’s not good,” he said. “But that’s the game we played, you’ve got to even things out, alas…or alas.”
It’s a must-win game for Mikel Arteta’s side, who hope to keep the pressure on Manchester City as the title race heats up, with Pep Guardiola’s side beating Everton 3-0 earlier today.
Gary Neville on commentary was baffled that no cards were shown for any of the tackles
Martinelli (third from left) slumped to the ground and was treated before being substituted
The midfielder was seen wearing a plastic boot after the match, having suffered the injury
Leandro Trossard (right) replaced him shortly after and hit the woodwork
Bukayo Saka (right) also came close in the first half, but failed to give Arsenal the lead
Arsenal had the lion’s share of chances in what was a disjointed first 45 minutes for the title contenders.
Leandro Trossard, Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard all came close trying to get Jason Steele into the net, but failed to hit the target.
The Gunners gained confidence towards the end of the first period, but would go into halftime with a 0-0 score.
Julio Enciso would put the home side ahead in the 51st minute, before Deniz Undav and Pervis Estupinan scored late to give Brighton a 3–0 win.
However, Arteta hopes their star midfielder, Martinelli, who has scored 15 times in 35 league appearances for Arsenal this season, will not miss the rest of the season.