Five players approached last weekend’s Tightrope deadline in the knowledge that one more caution would earn them a two-match ban. Whilst four successfully navigated their matches, Sunderland’s Phil Bardsley was unable to remain in the referee’s good books and picked up a yellow card during Saturday’s home loss to Everton:
Frustratingly for Bardsley’s owners, he misses the second match of double Gameweek 34 – as this is away to City tomorrow night, however, that may not be too much of a bad thing. The Black Cats full-back will also sit out next weekend’s trip to Chelsea before returning in time for the Gameweek 36 home showdown with fellow strugglers Cardiff.
Elsewhere, Jordan Henderson is bracing himself for a three-match suspension after being dismissed for violent conduct in Sunday’s win over City. While all eyes were on Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard as he looked to avoid his tenth caution of the campaign, Henderson’s challenge on Samir Nasri ensures he will miss upcoming games against Norwich, Chelsea and Crystal Palace, before returning in time to face Newcastle on the final day of the season. Given he’s the only outfield play to start every game for Brendan Rodgers’ title-challengers, Henderson’s loss may prove crucial in the run-in, with Joe Allen or Lucas dropping into the central midfield in his absence.
Swansea City’s Chico Flores is also set for a stint on the sidelines. The centre-half was sent packing after receiving a pair of yellows in quick succession during Sunday’s home loss to Chelsea, and as this was his second dismissal of the season, he now misses the next two matches – vital clashes against out-of-sorts Newcastle and Villa.
Arsenal’s Mathieu Flamini serves the second of a two-match suspension this evening after picking up his tenth caution last week. The Frenchman has also sat out Saturday’s cup clash with Wigan and will skip the visit of West Ham before returning to the fold for next week’s trip to Hull.
The Suspension Tightrope deadline has now been extended until the end of the season, with players now needing to accumulate 15 yellows in order to trigger another ban. Four central midfielders – Steven Gerrard, Gareth Barry, Cheick Tiote and Ramires – are joined by Manchester City’s Pablo Zabaleta on nine cautions, after the Argentine earned a yellow in Sunday’s defeat at Anfield.