Ref retained despite Arsenal red-card blunder


Referee Andre Marriner (L) reacts during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in London March 22, 2014. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

LONDON (Reuters) - Referee Andre Marriner will remain a part of next weekend's Premier League games despite his high-profile gaffe in sending off the wrong Arsenal player at Chelsea on Saturday.

Marriner will take charge of Southampton against Newcastle United on Saturday, the Premier League said.

The referee caused uproar when he awarded a penalty against Arsenal for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's handball and then sent off Kieran Gibbs by mistake despite the real culprit owning up at the time.

Arsenal went on to lose 6-0 at Stamford Bridge but Marriner's blunder was the talk of the afternoon, with the referee later expressing his 'disappointment' to Arsenal.

Former World Cup referee Clive Thomas told BBC radio the referee had made a "disgusting, shocking decision" and suggested Marriner should be stood down for the rest of the Premier League season.

The visitors had been trailing 2-0 to early goals from Samuel Eto'o and Andre Schuerrle when Marriner awarded the 15th-minute penalty after Oxlade-Chamberlain handled a shot from Eden Hazard on the goalline.

TV replays showed Oxlade-Chamberlain clearly mouthing "it was me" during the aftermath but the referee, who took a long time before awarding the penalty, stuck to his original decision.

The controversy compounded a miserable afternoon for Arsene Wenger in his 1,000th match in charge of Arsenal.

"Incidents of mistaken identity are very rare and are often the result of a number of different technical factors," the Professional Game Match Officials had said in a statement on Saturday.

"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."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Justin Palmer)

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