Granit Xhaka was “very lucky” to avoid a second yellow card and a one-game suspension for Arsenal after their 2-0 victory over Newcastle United.
That is the view of ex-FIFA and Premier League referee Keith Hackett, speaking exclusively to Football Insider about Xhaka’s “unfair” challenge on Sean Longstaff in the second half at St James’ Park.
The 28-year-old had already picked up a caution in the 20th minute after kicking Allan Saint-Maximin’s ankles.
Early into the second half, he body checked Longstaff as Newcastle launched a counter-attack and gave away a free-kick.
Sky Sports co-commentator Don Goodman claimed it was a yellow card offence “nine times out of 10”.
But Mike Dean did not judge the challenge as worthy of a second yellow – a decision that surprised Hackett.
He told Football Insider correspondent Connor Whitley: “That’s a cautionable offence.
“That’s unfair impeding. He’s quite a regular guy that does this. That’s a definite caution, absolutely.
“Crikey. He’s already on a yellow, he’s very lucky to get away with a second yellow.
“That is a block, it’s unfair impeding. It’s a mandatory yellow card.
“Mike Dean’s pretty hot on it usually. Maybe he’s softened up.
“His whole movement is to block him off and he’s succeeded.”
All three times Xhaka has been sent off in the Premier League have been straight red card offences.
He has been forced to fill at left-back in recent weeks and a one-game ban would have seen him miss the Gunners’ home game against West Brom next weekend.