Martin Keown blasts pedantic referee for sending off Gabriel Martinelli in Arsenal win at Wolves

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‘It doesn’t feel sporting’: Martin Keown blasts ‘pedantic’ referee Michael Oliver for sending Gabriel Martinelli off for two fouls in the space of FIVE SECONDS… but praises Arsenal for channelling their anger to seal a vital win at Wolves

  • Martin Keown was surprised when Gabriel Martinelli was sent off against Wolves
  • Keown criticised Michael Oliver for punishing him for two fouls in five seconds
  • Martinelli stopped Wolves taking a quick throw in before fouling Chiquinho
  • Rio Ferdinand also slammed Oliver, claiming the ref ‘wants to be in the news’ 


Martin Keown hit out at referee Michael Oliver for sending Gabriel Martinelli off for two fouls in the same sequence of play against Wolves, describing the decision as ‘pedantic’.

In an astonishing five seconds, Martinelli tried to stop Wolves from taking a quick throw in and pushed over a player before haring back up the pitch in pursuit of Chiquinho, who he also sent tumbling.

The Brazilian looked like he expected to get booked but was shocked to see Oliver brandish two yellow cards and then a red card.

Gabriel Martinelli was sent off for committing two fouls in the same passage of play

Gabriel Martinelli was sent off for committing two fouls in the same passage of play

Seconds after stopping Wolves from taking a quick throw in, Martinelli fouled Chiquinho

Seconds after stopping Wolves from taking a quick throw in, Martinelli fouled Chiquinho

Analysing the game for BT Sport, former Arsenal defender Keown was surprised by the decision.  

‘I felt it was quite tough on the player they’re gonna be without him for a very important game. They saw it through and it didn’t matter on the end but i thought it was very pedantic from the referee,’ Keown said.

Fellow BT Sport pundit Joleon Lescott thought Martinelli could not complain about the decision, saying ‘we’re all aware he’s on a yellow card, his emotions have got the best of him and he’s committed the foul’. 

But Keown defended the Arsenal forward.  

‘In the heat of the moment he doesn’t know, he couldn’t know because he (the referee) has played an advantage, in that separation there’s a difficulty in the law,’ he added. 

‘I’d like to know how many referees up and down the country would have made that call. done that. Now it looks like a stupid thing to do but in the moment I probably would have done the same thing myself. 

Martinelli's red card saw him become the fourth Arsenal player to get sent off in 2022

Martinelli’s red card saw him become the fourth Arsenal player to get sent off in 2022

Martin Keown criticised Michael Oliver for the decision, calling the referee 'pedantic'

Martin Keown criticised Michael Oliver for the decision, calling the referee ‘pedantic’

‘In isolation they are both yellows but I think really he should have stopped the game and given him a yellow at that point. I feel there’ s a moral issue with what the referee has done, it doesn’t feel sporting. 

‘Maybe we’re gonna see this up and down the country. Maybe it’s a new directive. It nearly spoilt it from an Arsenal point of view but in the end it didn’t matter. A good three points for Arsenal.’ 

Keown also praised Arteta’s side for seeing the win out with 10 men.

He added: ‘The discipline has to improve because eventually it will catch up with you but tonight they got away with it, they turned that round they turned that anger, what they thought was an injustice, and used that energy to get three vital points.’

In the BT studio, Rio Ferdinand also criticised the decision to send off Martinelli, implying that Oliver wanted to be the centre of attention. 

‘He wants to be in the news the ref, doesn’t he? So harsh,’ Ferdinand said. 

‘The first (foul), you can say it’s a yellow. But the second one, especially in the same phase or sequence, I just don’t feel it warrants another yellow card. No chance.

‘This is football, and common sense doesn’t come into it any more when making decisions.’

Aaron Ramsdale and Thomas Partey celebrate after 10-man Arsenal held on for the 1-0 win

Aaron Ramsdale and Thomas Partey celebrate after 10-man Arsenal held on for the 1-0 win

Robbie Savage agreed, saying: ‘I’m with Rio. I think it’s harsh. By the letter of the law it’s correct, but really? One yellow card is sufficient for me.’

Michael Owen sympathised with Oliver’s decision but also felt sending off Martinelli was harsh. 

He said: ‘I don’t think the principle is wrong. If you make two yellow card offences, I don’t think it’s wrong to say hang on, you’re going to get a red. But when it happens so close and they’re not absolutely guaranteed yellow cards, on balance, one (yellow) is enough.’

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