A second-minute booking in Liverpool’s 6-3 mauling of Cardiff last Saturday brings Steven Gerrard a step nearer an automatic two-match ban. Having received his ninth yellow of the campaign against the Bluebirds, the Reds’ skipper must now negotiate the next four league matches without incurring the referee’s wrath in order to avoid enforced time on the sidelines:
Incidentally, Gerrard’s weekend booking was his seventh of the calendar year alone – five arriving in the league and two in domestic cups – and coincides with his move to a more withdrawn role, suggesting he’s perhaps being drawn into making more tactical challenges as the last man in front of the back-four.
Gerrard is one of three midfielders sitting on nine bookings. Arsenal’s Mathieu Flamini needs to negotiate just three fixtures to avoid suspension – the reason being is that the Gunners’ rescheduled Gameweek 34 fixture with West Ham takes place on Tuesday April 15, two days after the deadline extension on Sunday April 13. Chelsea’s Ramires is also one yellow away from toppling off the Tightrope. The Brazilian is currently serving the second of a three-game suspension for violent conduct and will miss matches against Palace and Stoke – if he picks up a yellow upon his return in the Gameweek 34 clash against Swansea, he’ll face further sanction.
Twelve players are a couple of cards away from a ban, with Wayne Rooney and Pablo Zabaleta the most high-profile from a Fantasy perspective. Stoke are the most represented, with a trio of players (Geoff Cameron, Jon Walters and Marc Wilson) on eight yellows. A further 14 players are still under threat of potential suspension, sitting on seven cautions apiece.
Arsenal have successfully appealed the red card mistakenly handed out to Kieran Gibbs during Saturday’s loss at Chelsea. The FA transferred this to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain but have subsequently rescinded his ban for wrongful dismissal, due to the fact that Eden Hazard’s initial shot was deemed to be off target before the midfielder handballed. Both players are now available for tomorrow’s clash with Swansea.
Sunderland’s Marcos Alonso sits out Wednesday’s trip to Anfield after his dismissal in Saturday’s 2-0 loss at Norwich. The left-back earned two yellows – the first for a foul late in the second half, the second for a handball in stoppage time.
Fulham’s Fernando Amorebieta is also sidelined for a single match. The Cottagers defender was sent packing after denying a goalscoring opportunity in Saturday’s 5-0 loss at the Etihad and will miss next weekend’s crucial home encounter against Everton.
Jon Walters, Jonas Olsson and George Boyd serve the last of their respective bans this upcoming weekend, whilst a trio of players will return to action in time for Gameweek 32. Charlie Adam and Willian will be joined by United skipper Nemanja Vidic, who completes a two-match batch against City in tomorrow evening’s Manchester derby.