Barton: Ref decision was right one
Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton has confessed to "being hit harder at school" than he was by Gervinho, but still insists the decision taken by referee Peter Walton to dismiss the Arsenal striker was the correct one.
The spat between the two players was the main talking point of the 0-0 draw between the two sides, with Barton pulling the Ivory Coast international from the ground to accuse him of diving to win a penalty. Gervinho responded by slapping Barton, sending him to the floor, and was shown a red card on his debut for the Gunners.
Barton maintains he was right to go down himself, even if he was not hurt. Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, he said: "I can't take responsibility for what Gervinho did. I did go down easily, I've been hit harder by people at school, but that's not to make what he did right. He raised his hands, we all know the rules about that. I have made a meal of it."
He added: "I take responsibility for my actions and I shouldn't have gone over and lifted Gervinho up by his shirt, that's not the correct thing to do. I should have let the referee handle it.
"I pulled him from the floor because I felt he was trying to cheat me, my team-mates and my football club out of a point - a point that could be massive for us at the end of the season.
"He's actually struck me in the face, and my issue is, if I don't go down, and it's clear the officials didn't see what went on exactly. If I don't go down and he doesn't get sent off, I'm making my own team suffer."
Despite initially calling Gervinho a cheat, Barton has now conceded that there was some contact between him and team-mate Cheick Tiote. He does not believe it was enough to warrant a penalty, though, and claimed he would be "embarrassed" if one of Newcastle's players did the same thing.
He added: "From my point of view I've trained for six weeks, sometimes on my own, as have all the lads. We had our fans there who have grafted all week to pay to come and watch us and I just felt disappointed by Gervinho trying to win a penalty.
"There's a fine line. For me, diving and trying to con a ref is cheating. I said what I said about Gervinho prior to seeing the numerous replays. I have to take back blatantly calling him a cheat. I thought he'd fully dived, but I still think he's going in hoping to get a pen but the ref knew what he was up to.
"If one of my team-mates got in the box and went down with a bit of slight contact I'd be slightly embarrassed by it. I'm not saying I'd be calling them all the names under the sun but there'd certainly be words in our dressing room. We have a lot of honest players who have respect for their fellow professionals."