LONDON (AP) — In a high-profile case of mistaken identity by a Premier League referee, the wrong Arsenal player was sent off during Saturday's 6-0 loss at Chelsea — adding a farcical element to a one-sided encounter between the two title rivals.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain blatantly handled the ball in the penalty area in the 15th minute, making a diving save to tip away Eden Hazard's shot when Arsenal was already 2-0 down. But referee Andre Marriner instead sent off defender Kieran Gibbs.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was seen saying "it was me" to Marriner but the referee ignored protests, while his assistants also failed to spot the mistake.
Marriner later admitted he made a mistake via a statement from the Premier League referees' body, with officials prevented from speaking publicly to the media.
"Andre is an experienced referee and is obviously disappointed that an error of mistaken identity was made in this case," Professional Game Match Officials said in a statement. "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."
Hazard scored from the resulting penalty spot and three more goals followed for the hosts as Arsenal was consigned to one of its heaviest losses in manager Arsene Wenger's 1,000th match in charge.
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