Gracia: “I Don't Understand That Decision”
Watch Javi Gracia's post-match interview above, or read on below.
By Kevin Affleck
The usually stoic Javi Gracia struggled this time to hide his disappointment at a referee's decision, believing his side were on the receiving end of a rough call against Arsenal at Vicarage Road.
The Hornets were in the process of regathering themselves after Ben Foster gift-wrapped the Gunners what turned out to be the only goal of the game when Troy Deeney was shown a straight red card on 11 minutes for a challenge on Lucas Torreira. Referee Craig Pawson made the call on the say-so of his assistant, Richard West.
The usually mild-mannered Gracia was so annoyed he waited for the officials at half-time and escorted them down the tunnel along with Technical Director Filippo Giraldi. Étienne Capoue also made a beeline for the official when the half-time whistle blew, the stand-in captain seeking further clarification about the dismissal.
“I don't agree, but I respect the decision,” said Gracia. “I have doubt. Maybe it was a yellow card. Maybe. But I don't understand why the referee did it. He hasn't explained anything. If someone has to explain that decision, it's the referee.”
Deeney was shown a red card, his first since the one against Huddersfield in 2017, after the officials deemed his right arm made contact with the face of Torreira, the combative Uruguayan.
“I could see the play, I could see the contact with his his arm but never with his elbow,” said Gracia. “What I can I say? I don't understand that decision.”
Deeney will now serve a three-match ban, ruling him out of games against Huddersfield, Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
“Troy is very sad, it was an important game for us, he knew it,” said Gracia. “The sending off was very tough for us.”
Unai Emery took a leaf out of the book of his predecessor, Arsène Wenger, when he reflected on the key incident.
“I didn't see it,” said the Arsenal coach. “I respect the decision of the referee. It's clear it helped us.”