A match rife with unbearable moments for Arsenal and manager Arsene Wenger reached its breaking point when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and referee Andre Marriner inadvertently teamed up for one of the more bizarre moments in recent memory.
Just 14 minutes into the match and Arsenal already down 2-0 to first-place Chelsea, the 20-year-old winger committed a blatant hand ball off Eden Hazard’s shot to the right of the goal.
Rather than issuing Oxlade-Chamberlain a red card, Marriner instead mistakenly sent off Kieran Gibbs even though replays clearly showed Oxlade-Chamberlain essentially confessing his error by saying simply: “It was me.”
With the Gunners down a man, Hazard would strike the resulting penalty, and Chelsea would score three more goals in their 6-0 victory in what was supposed to be a celebration of Wenger’s 1000th match.
The Professional Game Match Officials Limited, Marriner’s bosses, issued a statement after the blunder.
"Andre is an experienced referee and is obviously disappointed that an error of mistaken identity was made in this case," the statement 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."
Marriner’s issue aside, one of the many questions that will leave Gunners fans scratching their collective head is why Oxlade-Chamberlain would make such a play in the first place.
Arsenal will reportedly file two appeals with the Football Association, hoping to get Gibbs’s red card removed from his record and also hope to avoid Oxlade-Chamberlain receiving a suspension on the grounds that Hazard’s shot wasn’t on target anyway, according to Daily Mail.
The Gunners need to have both players back for Tuesday’s match against Swansea, especially after the loss to Chelsea and Manchester City’s victory pushed them back into fourth on the table.
The play in its entirety can be viewed below beginning at the :40 second mark.