Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was sent off following a Video Assistant Referee review during Saturday’s Premier League clash at Crystal Palace, with the forward deemed to have committed a tackle with "the intensity of the challenge which endangered the safety of an opponent".
Aubameyang was initially shown a yellow card after he launched into a studs-up challenge on Palace midfielder Max Meyer, with the German’s ankle folding beneath him under the weight of the contact.
Referee Paul Tierney initially booked Aubameyang – who had scored early on to put Arsenal in front – but waited to restart the game as a VAR review took place on a possible red card offence. After a lengthy wait in which Palace supporters continuously chanted “F*** VAR” after holding a protest against it minutes before, Aubameyang was summoned to Tierney, who rescinded the yellow card and produced a straight red card.
Tierney received advice from VAR Craig Pawson back in Stockley Park, who urged the matchday referee to upgrade the punishment.
However, Tierney did not elect to go to the pitchside VAR monitor to look at the incident himself, as fellow referee Michael Oliver did in sending off Luka Milivojevic during Palace’s defeat by Derby County in last weekend’s FA Cup clash.
Meyer was forced off the field with injury from the challenge as Cenk Tosun came on to make his debut for the club, while replays of the incident were shown inside the stadium once the VAR review was complete, leading to boos from the home supporters.
Soon after the incident, the Professional Game Match Officials Limited, who are responsible for implementing the laws of the game in the Premier League, issued clarification of why Aubameyang was sent off.
A statement read: “In the 65th minute of Crystal Palace v Arsenal, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was shown a yellow card for a challenge on Max Meyer by referee Paul Tierney. The VAR looked at the incident and determined that the point of contact and the intensity of the challenge endangered the safety of the opponent and recommended upgrading the yellow card to a red card for serious foul play.”
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The red card proved the first to an Arsenal goalscorer in the same match since Mikel Arteta – the current Arsenal manager – was sent off on October 2013, coincidentally coming at Selhurst Park in a 2-0 win over Palace.
The majority of Arsenal fans appeared to agree with the decision after posting on Twitter that a red card was the right call, though one high-profile fan did not see it quite the same way.
“WHAT? Another pathetic VAR fiasco,” wrote Piers Morgan. “That was a poor challenge but no malice intended & a booking at worst... @Aubameyang7 is not a dirty player. Ridiculous.”
Should Arsenal fail with any appeal, Aubameyang will serve a three-match ban that rules him out of the Premier League games against Sheffield United and Chelsea as well the FA Cup fourth round tie with Bournemouth.
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