Garth Crooks has told his BBC Sport Team of the Week column that Leeds United defender Gjanni Alioski needs “to have a word with himself” after the Macedonian’s theatrics resulted in Nicolas Pepe being sent off on Sunday evening.
Leeds and Arsenal played out an enthralling 0-0 draw in which Leeds dominated, but failed to make the breakthrough. The Whites hit the woodwork three times in just the second half – with Raphinha, Patrick Bamford and Rodrigo coming close.
Alioski, 28, impressed throughout for the Whites, playing on the left side of Marcelo Bielsa’s defence. He got under Pepe’s skin, and the rivalry came to the boil after 50 minutes – with Pepe headbutting Alioski, and the latter hitting the deck.
VAR replays saw Pepe sent off, and he will now be banned for the next three domestic matches. Although Crooks states that Pepe has no excuses for his actions, the BBC pundit believes Alioski should also be criticised.
“What a contrast to see Ezgjan Alioski go down as though he had been hit by a train in order to get Nicolas Pepe sent off after the slightest contact. Pepe was stupid enough to fall for Alioski’s earlier provocation, of course, but to go down like that – really? The Leeds defender needs to have a word with himself,” Crooks said.
TBR’s view – Alioski wrong to go down, but he needs to do so
If Alioski stays on his feet, does Pepe get red carded – something which he clearly deserves for his inability to control his emotions? Alioski has used his experience and played the younger Pepe, the latter foolish to succumb to the wiley Leeds man.
However, Alioski’s theatrics were poor. Going down like that under a soft headbutt is embarrassing – but in order to get Pepe sent off, he needs to hit the deck. If he stays on his feet, does Pepe get sent off? Probably not.