The Manchester United defender was confronted on the field by a Gunners supporter as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrated scoring from the spot
Manchester United defender Chris Smalling was shoved by a celebrating Arsenal supporter on the same day that Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish suffered a violent assault at the hands of a Birmingham City fan.
Stunning scenes at St Andrew’s on Sunday saw the Villans midfielder punched from behind by a pitch invader during the Second City Derby derby.
Swift action was taken against the culprit in the West Midlands, with the offender taken into custody by local police and handed an immediate lifetime ban from attending future fixtures.
And just a matter of hours after the events in Birmingham, another supporter was able to make his way onto the field at Emirates Stadium.
A man branded an “absolute numpty” by former United defender Gary Neville broke free after seeing Arsenal double their lead over the Red Devils.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang converted from the penalty spot to hand the Gunners a 2-0 advantage.
As he wheeled away towards the corner flag, a fan from the opposite side of the ground raced towards the jubilant Arsenal players.
He took the opportunity to shove England international Smalling on his way past, with stewards nowhere to be seen.
With two incidents taking place on the same afternoon, concerns have been raised as to the on-field safety of players.
It has been suggested that more needs to be done in order to prevent those in the stands from gaining access to the pitch.
That is easier said than done, but the relevant authorities will be expected to take action.
Following the game, Arsenal released a statement confirming the offending fan had been banned from all Arsenal games.
“We utterly condemn the behaviour of the individual who ran onto the pitch and approached Chris Smalling during today’s match,” the statement read.
“We would like to apologise to Chris and Manchester United, and are pleased that he was apprehended and arrested. We will be working closely with the Metropolitan Police in their investigation.
“The individual will also be banned from Arsenal matches home and away. Our matchday staff receive ongoing training on managing incidents such as this.”
Smalling suffered little more than bruised pride against Arsenal, but things could have been worse.
In the end, he was merely left to reflect on a disappointing 2-0 defeat for United.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side had made a trip to north London buoyed by a stunning Champions League victory over Paris Saint-Germain.
They were short of their best against the Gunners, though, with Romelu Lukaku unable to replicate his heroics at the Parc des Princes.
The Belgian striker squandered a number of chances, while the usually reliable David de Gea was surprisingly left wrong-footed by a swerving first-half effort from Granit Xhaka.
Once Aubameyang had added to that strike, Arsenal were always in complete control.
Unai Emery’s side have now clambered back above United in the Premier League table and into the top four, with only one point separating them from arch-rivals Tottenham.