Liverpool are to appeal against the red card shown to Curtis Jones in Saturday’s controversy-filled defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.
The Reds lost the match 2-1, with Spurs benefitting from a Joel Matip own goal deep into stoppage time. Jurgen Klopp’s side played much of the second half with just nine men, as Diogo Jota’s two yellows in quick succession followed Jones’ first-half dismissal.
Jones was initially only booked by referee Simon Hooper for his challenge on Yves Bissouma in the 26th minute.
The 22-year-old Liverpool midfielder appeared to win the 50/50 challenge, but then slipped with his momentum taking his foot over the top of the ball and on to Bissouma’s shin.
Hooper changed his decision to a straight red card after reviewing the incident on the monitor, having been advised to do so by VAR Darren England.
Still images of Jones’ foot making contact with the Spurs’ player’s leg served to make the challenge look more reckless than it perhaps was, while the incident was the subject of much debate among fans and pundits.
Liverpool had one unlikely supporter in the form of Gary Neville who said during Sky Sports’ broadcast: “He is over the top, the ball is moving and it is certainly not a red, it looks worse than it actually is.
“His foot slips, it is not a red for me and this will ruin the game.
“I maybe wrong, but I just do not know any more. In slow motion, you will come to the conclusion it is a red card. I do not think he has gone over the top to do him.”
Speaking after the game, Jurgen Klopp defended his number 17, saying: “Red card for Curtis, probably everybody in the room here thinks it’s a clear red card.
“I think different because I played football and most of you probably didn’t.
“He had full power on the ball, rolls over the ball and then he hits the decisive part of the leg. When you see it in slow motion it looks horrendous but when you see it in real time it’s not even that close to being that bed. It wasn’t even close to being on purpose.”
As a result of the straight red for ‘serious foul play’, Jones will be suspended for Liverpool’s next three matches. However, it was reported on Monday that Liverpool will appeal the decision.
Can Liverpool win an appeal?
The Reds do have precedent in this area, successfully seeing Alexis Mac Allister’s red card in the win over Bournemouth back in August overturned on appeal.
As reported by the Liverpool Echo, that was one of four successful red card appeals for the club in Premier League history.
Mac Allister was given a straight red by referee Thomas Bramall for a challenge on Bournemouth’s Ryan Christie during the second half of Liverpool’s 3-1 victory over Bournemouth at Anfield.
Following the Reds’ successful appeal, the FA released a statement saying: “An independent regulatory commission has removed Alexis Mac Allister’s three-match suspension following a claim of wrongful dismissal.”
The decision was a clearly a harsh one with even Cherries boss Andoni Iraola admitting the challenge “did not look like a red card”.
Whether Liverpool have such a strong case with Jones is questionable.
Sky Sports report that Liverpool “feel the tackle did not meet the threshold for excessive force as the 22-year-old made enough contact with the ball and was trying to control it by rolling over it, while there was no basis or intention for serious foul play.”
However, ESPN’s VAR expert Dale Johnson compared the incident to previous sendings off for Malo Gusto and Casemiro, suggesting the case for ‘serious foul play’ can be made based on the way Bissouma’s leg bends – regardless of intent.
He wrote: “Jones will no doubt feel himself unlucky to get a red card, but the nature of the challenge always meant a VAR intervention was likely.
“As explained last week in the review for Malo Gusto’s red card for Chelsea against Aston Villa, when the replays show that an opponent’s leg has effectively been bent by the tackle, that will be seen as evidence of excessive force.
“Jones’ foot came off the top of the ball and led to him catching Bissouma high on the shin and forcing his leg backward. It’s similar in nature to the dismissal of Manchester United midfielder Casemiro against Southampton last season (though that was a clearer red card due to the way he went into the challenge).
“Jones was unlucky, but a VAR intervention for a red card was always likely.”
What happens if Liverpool lose the appeal?
Should Liverpool be unsuccessful in their appeal, Jones will keep his three-match ban – unless the appeal is deemed to be frivolous, in which case the suspension could be extended to four games.
This makes appealing a risky option.
What games will Curtis Jones miss?
As it stands Jones will miss the following games for Liverpool due to his suspension:
- vs Brighton (a) – 8 October
- vs Everton (h) – 21 October
- vs Nottingham Forest (h) – 29 October
The ban is not applicable to the Reds’ Europa League fixtures.