Liverpool’s fiery 2-2 draw with Arsenal on Easter Sunday will surely go down in history as an all-time Premier League classic, complete with fluid football, last-ditch saves, and crunching tackles. As much drama as there was on the pitch, one of the biggest talking points occurred off it when Andy Robertson appeared to be elbowed by the assistant referee after half-time.
The shocking incident was replayed on Sky Sports’ coverage, and it did in fact appear that assistant referee Constastine Hatzidakis struck the Scotland player’s chin as the latter approached him. After the blow was made, Robertson was then promptly booked for complaining and raced down the tunnel in a furious mood.
The stunning incident is the first of its kind in the Premier League, and I personally cannot remember the last time a feud between a player and an official was instigated by the latter. Though the elbow looked bad in slow motion, the subsequent fallout has been nothing short of sensationalist.
Roy Keane ,once again, served as the voice of reason on the Sky Sports commentary team by calling Robertson a ‘baby’ for his reaction and alleged ‘apoplectic’ demeanor in the dressing room. "He grabs the linesman first’’ said Keane, before adding ‘’just get on with the game.’’ As you can probably imagine, I fully agree with Keane’s statements and feel as though people are making a mountain out of a molehill as- per-usual.
Theatrics In Football
The enthralling game was overshadowed by the incident and the allegedly-brutal elbowing represents the latest edition of footballers introducing theatrics into the sport. We saw it earlier in the month with Harry Kane and Aboulaye Doucoure, and now it’s Andy Robertson’s turn to over-act in front of the camera.
Roy Keane’s analysis was so spot-on as he, like me, is a true old-school hardman who doesn’t let small things get to him. Graeme Souness, a compatriot of Robertson, was in the same category, and I doubt he’d have complained if an official provoked him either. Playing quality football is the best revenge, and the glancing blow of the official wouldn’t have bothered either of those two legends.
Officials Must Be Disciplined
That’s not to say the official was in the right to do so, however, and I fully back an investigation into him and time develops. If players like Aleksandar Mitrovic are serving lengthy bans for putting their hands on officials, then I would expect the same to be given for officials who put their hands on players. Robertson may have overreacted, but the official must be disciplined in the name of fairness.
The 2022/23 Premier League season was expected to give us plenty of drama, yet none of us could have expected that one of the best games of the season would be remembered for an assistant referee softly elbowing the chin of a player.
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