Bournemouth midfielder Harry Arter has downplayed the elbow to the head he received from Tottenham Hotspur’s Moussa Sissoko. In post-match comments televised on NBC, Arter said that Sissoko apologized for the incident and said it was not intentional.
“He said afterwards he caught me by accident,” Arter said. “He is not that sort of player.”
The incident happened late in the second half of the scoreless draw between Spurs and the Cherries at the Vitality Stadium. Both players were scuffling by the sidelines when the ball went out of play for a Spurs throw. Arter appeared to try and attempt to delay Sissoko from throwing the ball in and received a hard elbow from Sissoko to the temple.
Match official Craig Pawson and his assistant referee close to the incident discussed the situation and ultimately let the matter pass without a booking or even a foul, though Bournemouth fans were screaming for a straight red.
Arter downplaying the incident and Sissoko’s apparent apology may not matter much if the Premier League decides to review the play. It’s altogether possible that Sissoko could be on the receiving end of a three-match retroactive ban for violent conduct for the incident.
Replays are inconclusive as to whether the elbow was intentional or not. Sissoko says it wasn’t, and Arter seems to accept that. The EPL’s decision may also come down to Pawson’s post-match report: if Pawson says that he or his assistant saw the incident and judged it accidental, then the EPL probably won’t review. If they didn’t have a clear view of the incident, then the EPL could come in with a retroactive ban if they feel it was violent conduct.
Either way it was a pretty stupid thing to do and Spurs were very lucky to finish the match with eleven men. I’ve seen red cards given for far worse offenses, and even if it was unintentional, the optics are absolutely horrible.