The presence of Houssem Aouar means there was more interest than usual in a Tuesday night clash between Montpellier and Lyon.
The Lyon star was a standout in their Champions League run last season, and the links to Arsenal keep coming with The Metro reporting that Mikel Arteta wants to build his team around him next season.
Watching Arsenal fans may have been interested to see his creativity and class for a whole match, but they actually saw an uglier side to his game – One where he was sent off and it ultimately cost his team the game.
It’s one of those challenges where you’ll often make an argument depending which team you support, but the ref has a good look at the replays thanks to VAR and deemed it was worthy of a straight red:
The commentator talks about it only being a yellow card because it’s not a forceful challenge, and the contact does come after the Montpellier player kicks through the ball, so you can make an argument either way.
To get some clarity on the issue I asked former Premier League referee Keith Hackett for his view on the incident, and it’s clear that he’s completely supportive of the decision to send him off:
“VAR was correct in advising the referee to view the monitor. The player was correctly shown the red card.”
” In law this is an excessive force challenge with the player exceeding the necessary use of force and endangers the safety of his opponent and must be sent off. The foot was raised high coming in from distance and at speed. Correct issuing of red card.”
It’s almost one of these situations where you expect the Lyon manager to come out and claim “he’s not that type of player”, but that’s utterly irrelevant when it comes to making a decision here.
When you watch it back the Montpellier player is well within his rights to clear the ball, but the way Aoaur makes the challenge makes it inevitable that he’s going to follow through and take the studs to his shin.
It’s also a challenge that looks much worse every time you see it, while the reaction of the player is usually pretty telling.
Aouar looks sheepish and quietly hands the armband to someone else without a protest so it looks like he’s fully accepting of the decision too.
It’s also positive to see VAR working in a positive manner to reach the correct outcome, and it happened later in the game with the decision to send Hilton off too.
From an Arsenal point of view this is fascinating because it’s a side of his game that hasn’t really come up before, but it’s something that could be a concern if it becomes a regular occurrence.