Former Coventry City striker Noel Whelan has blasted Giovani Lo Celso for his challenge on Cesar Azpilicueta in Tottenham’s 2-1 defeat to Chelsea on Saturday, claiming it could have ended the defender’s career.
The midfielder appeared to stamp down on the Chelsea right-back’s foot as he came in to win the ball and, while the incident looked innocuous when it happened, slow-motion replays showed that the challenge from the Spurs star was rather nasty.
However, VAR ruled that Michael Oliver hadn’t made a clear and obvious error by failing to send Lo Celso off and the 22-year-old remained on the pitch.
VAR’s decision has to not send Lo Celso off has received a lot of criticism and Whelan also failed to understand how the officials initially did not see it as a sending off.
The PGMOL later admitted that the player should have been sent off and instead said it was a “human error” by VAR official David Coote (Express).
The 45-year-old was convinced that the Tottenham midfielder went in with the intent of hurting his opponent.
Speaking to Football Insider, Whelan said: “Shocking challenge. It is a coward’s tackle. That is the only way I can say it. Malicious and cowardly.
“I understand you want to be aggressive but be aggressive in the right manner. That is a career-ending challenge – stamping sideways on someone’s shin like that. It is disgusting and I do not want to see it.
“All he showed there is that he is a coward and that went in to intently hurt somebody.
“I do not know who is up there or what they are drinking at times but they do not have a clue. They are making the game worse. How you cannot see that is absolutely beyond me.”
Spurs Web Opinion
I do think Giovani Lo Celso was extremely lucky to stay on the pitch for that challenge but Whelan’s assessment that he went in with the intention of hurting Azpilicueta is rather harsh on the Argentine. While it was a dangerous tackle from him, it looked like Azpilicueta had slid his foot beneath him just as the 23-year-old was landing his right foot. In truth, only Lo Celso knows whether there was any intent or not.
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