One of the more remarkable episodes to unfold during last night’s Champions League matches was the bizarre start to Arsenal’s second half with Roma. With the Gunners centre-half pairing of Kolo Toure and William Gallas late to return to the field of play, Danish referee Claus Bo Larsen insisted that the match restart with Arsenal fielding just eight outfield players.
Compounding matters, when the pairing finally showed their faces on the pitch seconds after the restart had got underway, the yellow card was brandished as a further reprimand for their slack time-keeping.
The incident evoked schoolboy memories of arriving seconds late to class with a self-obsessed teacher in charge deciding to make an example of the errant truants, even though a more delicate response could have easily been administered.
Taking the role of the honest wrongdoer, William Gallas waited on the sidelines before taking his punishment. By contrast Kolo Toure took the role of the cheeky rascal as he forgot to wait for permission before bursting onto the pitch. He got booked for his troubles.
Wenger assumed the role of the responsible headmaster at full-time. “When the bell rings you have to be ready to go out. It’s explainable by the fact Kolo is always going out last and he waited for William, who had treatment and was putting his boots on and strappings. They didn’t know the game had started without them.”
Footage of the how the incident unfoled can be seen at the start of this video.