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The Gunners' debutant saw red at St. James' Park on opening day, but should match officials have dished out more cards to the English combatant and Alex Song?

The Premier League returned on Saturday in spectacular fashion. Arsenal showed its  continued lack of indiscipline in its opener against Newcastle when Gervinho was sent off on his Gunners debut for striking Joey Barton in the face.

The outspoken midfielder was a surprise starter for the Magpies after being put on the transfer list by the club following comments on he made on his Twitter page. 

Barton is never far from controversy and following the match, highlights the flashpoints which put him on a collision course with trouble as the clash between the two sides exploded into life in the second half.

60th minute

Incident: After a quiet start to the second half of the game Joey Barton challenged Alex Song on the hour mark on the half way line, without winning the ball. The Arsenal man didn’t like the challenge and stamped on Barton’s right leg whilst the midfielder was on the ground.

Ref's decision: A free kick was given to Arsenal by referee Peter Walton, however, no action was taken against Song due to him not seeing the incident.

The law: Regarding incidents of such as stamping the law says a player, substitute or substituted player is sent off if he commits an act of serious foul play or violent conduct. verdict: Song should have been sent off for the stamp on Barton.

61st minute

Incident: After Song’s stamp on Barton, the latter ran to fourth official Nigel Miller to remonstrate with him and call for him to report the incident to Peter Walton. The midfielder’s outburst was not taken on-board by the official, who waved him away.

Ref's decision: No action was taken against Barton despite the aggressive nature of his appeal to Nigel Miller.

The law: A player is cautioned and shown the yellow card if he commits dissent by word or action. verdict: Peter Walton made the right call. Barton was irked by the previous decision and despite his pleas to Nigel Miller, he did not go over the top and there was no proof of serious dissent.

75th minute

Incident: Arsenal was attacking down the left with Gervinho, who cut inside and ran into the box and appeared to be felled by Chiek Tiote. Replays suggest there was slight contact when the Ivorian went to ground.

Ref's decision: No penalty was given by Walton.

The law: A penalty kick is awarded if a player trips or attempts to trip an opponent inside his own penalty area, irrespective of the position of the ball, provided it is in play. verdict: The replays suggested there was contact from Tiote which caused Gervinho to go down in the area. Therefore by the laws of the game a penalty should have been awarded, however easily the player may have gone down.

76th minute

Incident: Following the penalty appeal from Gervinho, Barton went over to the former Lille man and dragged him by his shirt up from the ground in an aggressive manner. This started a melee which involved nearly all players from each side.

Having been dragged from the floor, Gervinho retaliated and slapped Barton across the face. The midfielder went down softly, clutching his face.

Ref's decision: Barton received a yellow card from Walton for grabbing Gervinho by the shirt, Gervinho received a red.

The law: A player, substitute or substituted player is sent off if he commits an act of serious foul play or violent conduct. verdict: Gervinho was right to be sent off. No matter how much contact his slap may have caused, the moment he raised his hand to Barton he was in the wrong. Peter Walton was right to give the former Lille man his marching orders.

When Barton raised his hands to Gervinho grabbing him by the shirt, he was also guilty of violent conduct by the letter of the law and therefore should have been sent off as well.