Arsene Wenger's 1,000th match as manager of Arsenal quickly proved to be a very bad day for him as Chelsea scored two rapid-fire goals to jump out to an early lead, but it might have been even worse for referee Andre Marriner.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain momentarily forgot he wasn't a goalkeeper and attempted to make a diving save with his hand — an offense that drew a red card and a penalty.
But Marriner sent off the wrong man, ordering a very confused Kieran Gibbs off the pitch. To his credit, Oxlade-Chamberlain appeared to tell mistaken official, "Ref, it was me" but Marriner ignored him.
So Gibbs did as he was told and Arsenal were reduced to 10-men with Oxlade-Chamberlain still on the pitch. Eden Hazard converted the penalty to put Chelsea up 3-0 in just the 17th minute.
About 20 minutes later, Premier League officials announced that Arsenal could appeal the red card on the basis of mistaken identity, but Gibbs would remain out of this match — something he probably wasn't too upset about as Chelsea finished the first half with a 4-0 lead.
Amazingly, the last time this happened wasn't all that long ago. In October, Preston North End's Patrick Kilkenny was wrongly sent off in place of teammate Joe Garner in a League One match against Port Vale in which Garner went on to score the match's only two goals.
Chelsea added two more goals in the second half and won 6-0 to match Arsene Wenger's biggest defeat over his entire 17 years with Arsenal (8-2 at Manchester United in 2011). What a special day for him. And to celebrate, he skipped his post-match press conference.
The Professional Game Match Officials Limited later released a statement on behalf of Marriner, not to apologize, but to simply "express his disappointment." From The Mirror:
"Andre is an experienced referee and is obviously disappointed that an error of mistaken identity was made in this case," it read.
"Incidents of mistaken identity are very rare and are often the result of a number of different technical factors.
"Whilst this was a difficult decision Andre is disappointed that he failed to identify the correct player.
"He expressed his disappointment to Arsenal when he was made aware of the issue."
And I'm sure that statement was met with blank stares.
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