There has always been a misguided desire to keep 22 players on the pitch and, as a result, difficult players often get away with too much and then believe they can repeat their actions without sanction.
Bad day at the office: Walton made a number of errors in the game
I used to do it with the irksome Robbie Savage, Craig Bellamy and El Hadj Diouf and on Saturday Peter Walton did the same with Joey Barton, who is always at the centre of contentious issues.
BARTON BOTHER No 1 - THE SONG STAMP
The sore point: Song stamps on Barton
In the first major incident of the match, Walton missed Alex Song's deliberate stamp on Barton.
What baffled me about the incident is that it was unseen by all four match officials despite occurring close to the touchline on the same side of the pitch as the fourth official Nigel Miller - a trained police marksman!
Remember that the fourth official's remit is now to watch the game and inform the referee of any incident he may have missed; those incidents can be of any type and are no longer restricted to acts of violence.
So even though the officials had some problems with the electronic equipment they use to communicate, they should have done better.
VERDICT: Walton accepts he missed the incident, which will allow the FA to charge Song today.
BARTON BOTHER No 2 - THE GERVINHO SLAP
Because of Barton's whingeing reaction to the Song incident, Walton should have had the sense to watch him a little closer.
Getting an earful: Barton is slapped by Gervinho who is then sent off
A penalty should have been awarded when Gervinho cut in from the left wing and was tripped by Cheik Tiote. Walton waved play on, obviously unsure whether there was any contact.
If he thought there was none he would have been duty bound to stop play and caution the Ivorian for simulation. Instead he turned and ran up field in pursuit of the ball which had been cleared away, leaving Gervinho on the floor and incensed opponents around him.
Out of Toon: Pardew tries to get an instruction over to Barton
Far less experienced officials than Walton know you are advised that, following any incident, if you cannot trust the players to move on from it without a confrontation, you should stop play and deal with the situation.
Walton did not follow that standard procedure and so Barton decided to take matters into his own hands by hauling Gervinho up by the shirt in a very aggressive manner.
Cue mayhem as players from both sides became involved in the easily avoided melee, the result of which was a red card for Gervinho for striking Barton.
VERDICT: The dismissal was correct as Gervinho slapped Barton but his reaction was embarrassing. The former hard man now seems more whinger than enforcer as he whined at Robin van Persie, 'He punched me', which was clearly untrue.
Wenger thought that if his player had to go then Barton should have gone as well and I would agree with that. Referees are often advised that following just such an incident there is a great deal of credibility in meting out equal punishment
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