The most controversial moment of Saturday’s Premier League action came during the 70th minute of Chelsea’s 1-1 home draw with Burnley, when a challenge on Nemanja Matic resulted with Ashley Barnes’s foot nearer to his knee than the ball (2:04 mark of the below video).
Matic made a beeline for Barnes, who was walking away form the scene of the crime, and shoved him to the ground, resulting in a red card for Matic and no further discipline for Barnes.
First things first, Matic is lucky to not have suffered a broken leg, or shredded knee or ankle ligaments. Tackles as ugly as Barnes’s hack-job often result in serious, long-term injuries, so there’s that to be thankful for, no matter which Premier League club you do or don’t support.
While Matic was undoubtedly angered by the “tackle,” his frustration must have been compounded by Martin Atkinson whistling only for a foul. Atkinson was undoubtedly right to show Matic red after retaliating, but he has to accept his role in the incident as well. Referees are there to protect players in instances like this, and he did absolutely nothing of the kind.
In honesty, Barnes is extremely lucky to have gotten off with only a strong shove to the ground. A challenge like that deserves a red card 10 times out of 10. As far as Matic’s retaliation goes, he surely wanted to give Barnes more than a push, and had he, Barnes’s face would have looked quite different tomorrow morning than it did when he woke up today.
So, the question that comes to mind is this: If you were Matic, how would you have reacted to Barnes’s horror tackle? Surely there’s former players amongst our readers who suffered a similar tackle and didn’t escape so injury-free. It’s an egregious challenge to Matic’s ability to earn a living and such acts have no place in the game.
Would you have been able to keep your cool in the moments shortly thereafter? Would you have also thrown Barnes to the ground, or worse, been looking to really hurt him?