Liverpool have already lost three players to suspension so far this season, with one member of Jurgen Klopp’s squad starting to walk a disciplinary tightrope.
The reds might have already received four red cards in the Premier League this season, more than any other side, but it is a rather different story when it comes to yellow cards.
The Reds’ playing squad have been issued with 15 yellow cards so far this season, with only AFC Bournemouth and Everton (both 13), Arsenal (12), and Crystal Palace (11) picking up fewer.
In contrast, Tottenham Hotspur have been the English top-flight’s worst offenders, having picked up 27 cautions from the first eight games of the season.
Such a fact will not be lost on Kopites after Jurgen Klopp’s men saw both Curtis Jones and Diogo Jota sent off in their controversial 2-1 defeat to Spurs earlier this month, with a further four bookings (five if you include one issue to assistant manager Peter Krawietz) ensuring they were also handed an automatic £25k fine for ill-discipline.
Jones still has two games to serve of a three-match suspension after that red card in the capital, though Jota will be available to return for the Merseyside derby later this month after completing his one-game ban against Brighton.
Having already seen Virgil van Dijk serve a two-match ban this season after being charged with improper conduct by the FA following his red card against Newcastle United back in August, Klopp will understandably be fed up of losing his players to suspension.
“It’s important to me that people don’t start thinking we have so many red cards so we are a kicking team. We don’t (go kicking players),” Klopp insisted to reporters after the controversial loss to Tottenham.
“The first red card (vs AFC Bournemouth) for Alex (Mac Allister) wasn’t a red card. Second (Virgil van Dijk vs Newcastle United) is for a normal foul I would say.
“Third is for that situation (about Curtis), and the fourth I don’t understand how many games where you see 11 vs 9. It doesn’t happen all that often and we were not kicking Tottenham players. We were trying to play football.”
Liverpool would at least see Alexis Mac Allister’s red card rescinded, but failed with an appeal to overturn Jones’ dismissal.
But if it’s any consolation to Klopp, at least only one of his players is currently edging towards walking a disciplinary tight-rope for accumulating yellow cards.
Players are automatically handed a one-match ban if they pick up five bookings during a club’s first 19 games of the Premier League season. 10 yellow cards by gameweek 32 results in a two-game suspension, while players are handed a three-match ban if they are shown 15 bookings before the end of the season.
Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mac Allister are the only players in Klopp’s squad who have received multiple yellow cards in the Premier League this season, with Jota essentially on one yellow card and one red card after being sent off for two bookable offences against Tottenham.
The Reds vice-captain has been booked twice, so has to avoid being issued three more yellow cards up to and including Liverpool’s trip to Burnley on Boxing Day.
Considering those bookings were for supposed time-wasting, when taking too long over a throw-in away at Chelsea, and for throwing the ball away against Newcastle, it is hardly a perilous situation.
Meanwhile, Mac Allister has picked up three yellow cards, so has started edging along a disciplinary tightrope with the Argentina international having to navigate 11 more matches with only one ‘free pass’ remaining before he risks a suspension.
Considering the Argentina international is being used as a holding midfielder by Klopp, a suspension in the first half of the season admittedly seems likely.
A potential absence would prompt an unwanted headache for the Reds, with the 24-year-old currently the go-to option as holding midfielder despite it not being his natural position.
Alternatives Stefan Bajcetic and Thiago Alcantara are currently sidelined, Wataru Endo is still adjusting to English football, and Alexander-Arnold remains first-choice at right-back.
Any absence for the World Cup winner would both emphasise Liverpool’s ‘weakness’ in the position after selling Fabinho in the summer, while also putting him under further scrutiny as he continues to line up in an unfavoured position.
If Mac Allister is to receive two more bookings by Boxing Day, Klopp can just hope the dreaded fifth booking isn’t issued against Brentford or Crystal Palace.
Handed a suspension after either match and the midfielder would miss Liverpool’s trip to Man City on Saturday 25 November or home clash with Manchester United on Sunday 17 December.
Alternatively, if handed a fifth yellow card when the Reds host the Red Devils, Mac Allister would be forced to sit out Arsenal’s visit to Anfield on Saturday 23 December.
Having already been handed one disciplinary reprieve this season, Liverpool need the midfielder to be on his best behaviour in the weeks ahead.