As the days tick by towards the next raising of the suspension threshold, the conveyor belt of footballers vying to show off their balancing skills grows ever richer. This week saw the second player to fall foul of the 10 card limit instantly replaced on the tightrope widget by three more eager faces, each now with nine cautions to their name. Elsewhere, a couple more red cards ensured that the ban list at Soho Square is kept fully stocked for the weeks ahead.
It’s not a huge surprise to see the Everton man grace these pages again. After picking up his ninth card in the previous weekend’s FA Cup home loss to Wigan, Fellaini lasted just seven more minutes on the high wire before crashing down to earth with a bookable challenge on City’s James Milner. The standard punishment for reaching double figures in yellows before the April 14 is therefore headed his way, with the Belgian set to sit out the following pair of fixtures at home to Stoke and away at Spurs respectively. From a Fantasy perspective, however, it means the ban is no longer hanging over him ahead of the Toffees’ double Gameweek 33 – Fellaini will be freshly rested and available just in time for a home clash with QPR and trip to Arsenal; with attacking returns in three of his last five, he can expect plenty renewed investment once he’s served his spell on the sidelines.
The South African also misses the Stoke and Spurs games, further adding to David Moyes’ midfield woes. Pienaar saw red an hour into Saturday lunchtime’s Goodison game after collecting a pair of yellows due to fouls on Gareth Barry and Javi Garcia – the standard one-match ban for such a misdemeanour is doubled as this is his second dismissal of the season. A couple of spots in the Everton midfield immediately therefore open up – Steven Naismith and Bryan Oviedo could be set to benefit, though Nikica Jelavic may return to the starting XI if Moyes decides to utilise Victor Anichebe in “the hole” as a result of Fellaini’s absence.
Completing the ban list for Gameweek 30, the Norwich goalkeeper was sent off after less than half an hour of the draw against Sunderland. Bunn’s dismissal, as a result of handling outside the area and denying a goalscoring opportunity under pressure from the onrushing Danny Graham, carries a single match ban, but he has cause to feel aggrieved at the decision with the replays clearly showing the ball came off his chest. The Canaries stopper looks under threat to retain his place now, though. Chris Hughton admitted in last Friday’s press conference that John Ruddy is closing in on a comeback from the thigh injury which has sidelined him since Gameweek 13 and is expected back in a fortnight’s time. No doubt the ‘Hot Cross Bunn’ jokes were doing the rounds as Easter approaches later this month.
Having gone three games without a yellow card, and with just one solitary booking in his last 11 games before this weekend, you would have been forgiven for thinking Suárez might not trouble the disciplinarians again this season. A yellow card accrued in injury time at the end of the loss to Southampton – incidentally his third yellow in five domestic losses since Christmas, contrasted with no cards in the nine games Liverpool have won or drawn – sees the tricky Uruguayan climb aboard the Tightrope for potentially the next three games. Can he hold out and avoid the mass Fantasy sales that will result? Maybe if Liverpool return to winning ways he will.
James Perch and Stéphane M’Bia
Suárez is joined on the tightrope by Newcastle’s utility man (and third choice right back yesterday) Perch, and the midfield rock at QPR, M’Bia, with both also picking up their ninth yellows of the season in the weekend games. The Suspension Tightrope in full therefore reads as follows, with all players needing to navigate a minimum of 3 fixtures unscathed to avoid a two match ban:
- Matthew Lowton (AVL)
- David Luiz (CHE)
- Luis Suárez (LIV)
- James Perch (NEW)
- Stéphane M’Bia (QPR)
- Craig Gardner (SUN)
- Gary Caldwell (WIG)
A trio of protagonists climb off the naughty step and return to action in Gameweek 30. Fabian Delph is welcomed back by Villa for the home game with Liverpool after serving a two-match suspension for picking up 10 cautions. Robert Huth and Pavel Pogrebnyak return for Stoke and Reading respectively – their three-match bans for violent conduct have now come to a conclusion.
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For Gameweek 38
- van Persie
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“I am happy with the way I’ve started, but on the other hand, I should have scored four or five more, so that’s something for me to work on.”Robin Van Persie talks about his early form at United ahead of his first Manchester derby