Manchester City have written to the body in charge of professional referees to raise their concerns over a series of dangerous challenges suffered by their players, according to widespread reports on Saturday.
The BBC reported the Premier League leaders have cited nine challenges they feel have not been sufficiently punished by referees in recent months to Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL).
City would also like to see a change in Football Association rules that would allow incidents seen by referees on the field to be reviewed again retrospectively.
That could possibly mean yellow cards being upgraded to red if evidence was sufficient.
In one of the worst challenges a fortnight ago, winger Leroy Sane was ruled out for six weeks by ankle ligament damage suffered after being caught late by Cardiff’s Joe Bennett.
“I said many times the only thing they (referees) have to do is protect the players,” City boss Pep Guardiola said after his side’s 2-0 FA Cup fourth round win in the Welsh capital.
“For the football in general, and for the players who are the artists, they must do that. That’s why we are all here.”
Bennett received only a yellow card, as did West Brom’s Matt Phillips for a high tackle on Brahim Diaz three days later.
Other bad challenges which have sparked controversy include lunges on Kevin De Bruyne by Crystal Palace’s Jason Puncheon and Tottenham’s Dele Alli and James McClean of West Brom.
In a much-criticised move, Guardiola named only six substitutes for last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Burnley claiming he had no more players left due to a spiralling injury crisis.
Provided by AFP Sport
The England international missed the opening four months of the campaign with a thigh injury sustained in pre-season and eventually made his first appearance on November 25.
He managed 221 minutes of action over seven matches as the problem flared up on two occasions but played just over an hour before getting sent off in the under-23s defeat to Tottenham on Monday.
Klopp is considering including him in the squad for Sunday’s trip to his former club Southampton but will not press the 29-year-old back into service too early.
“He is for sure an option for the squad, but an option for the first XI? I would think not in the moment,” he said.
“But maybe I can sleep twice before we play Southampton so maybe I will change my mind on this. We will see.
“He is in good shape, really quick, he looks fresh and looks good and you think ‘What can we do with him?’ but we did it twice now.
“I don’t think it was too early when we did it, but it happened twice so we need to settle a little and then use Adam.
“There are still, I don’t know, hopefully 18, 19, 20 games to go for us and that’s enough for him.”
One player expected to start on Sunday is Trent Alexander-Arnold.
The 19-year-old has been rotated at right-back with Joe Gomez this season but with the latter struggling to be fit from a knee injury the academy graduate is set for the nod again.
“We probably have the two youngest full-backs in the league pretty much and now Joe is out,” Klopp added.
“So it is really good that we have Trent. He developed a lot, like Joe did – different players obviously but both can play the position.
“It’s good for him that he doesn’t have to play every week. He is still a young boy. He improved a lot, especially in training, in the last few months.
“In the beginning he trained a little bit like a kid, ups and downs. (Now) it’s a consistent high level, good attitude and he can show his skills.
“The football part of the position seems to be pretty easy for him; he is really quick, he has a fantastic right foot, the left foot is not too bad, really good crosses, football smart, a good view for spaces. That’s all good.
“But (he has) a lot to learn of course. Hopefully he can deliver again.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
Liverpool has been a regular raider of talent from Southampton in the Premier League era. No less than seven players (not counting on-loan goalkeeper Paul Jones) have made the trip north to Anfield, costing the Reds a total of 173 million pounds (Dh881.3m).
And that doesn’t include ex-Saint Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who made his way to Liverpool via Arsenal.
So it’s no surprise that the Reds are not liked too much down south as they have regularly purloined the best the Saints have to offer.
So many Southampton players have made the switch to Liverpool that the Saints finally said enough is enough trying to hold on to Virgil van Dijk for as long as possible – before they were finally forced to release him as well.
Here’s our rankings on the worst to best Liverpool signings from Southampton:
6. Rickie Lambert – Signed 2014 (£4m)
This was one everyone – the player, the club, the fans and the manager – wanted to work, but sadly that wasn’t the case.
Lambert came from humble beginnings, working in a beetroot factory while playing in the lower divisions for Rochdale, Bristol Rovers and Stockport County.
But his rise to England international during his time at Southampton was widely celebrated.
Even Saints fans didn’t hold it against him too much when he achieved his boyhood dream of joining the Reds from Southampton in 2014.
But the timing for Lambert was all wrong. Originally signed as a backup option for Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, he came into a club still reeling from the effects of a near-miss Premier League campaign.
When Sturridge was injured Lambert was thrust into the first team and was given even more responsibility when Mario Balotelli’s signing to replace Suarez backfired superbly.
Sadly for all involved Lambert left in 2015 after scoring just three times in 36 appearances and never netting a goal at his beloved Anfield.
Ranking: Never looked at home at Liverpool. D
5. Dejan Lovren – Signed 2014 (£20m)
Lovren arrived at Liverpool in the summer of 2014 as the most expensive defender in the club’s history – a title he gave up to Van Dijk when he arrived a few years later.
But inconsistency and defensive blunders have continued to plague the 28-year-old.
His passion and commitment can never be questioned but his inexcusable errors – seen most recently in the near air-swing that gifted Harry Kane a penalty against Tottenham – have driven Liverpool fans (and his fellow players) to fits of despair.
Klopp’s arrival did see an upturn in form – as did the partnership with Joel Matip – but there have just been far too many blunders for Liverpool fans (or his fellow defenders) to trust him again.
The reality is Lovren will never be a constant member of a stable Reds back four.
Ranking: Too much uncertainty makes him a defensive liability. C
4. Adam Lallana – Signed 2014 (£25m)
Lallana has shown flashes of brilliance since his arrival before the 2014-15 season.
He struggled under Brendan Rodgers but Klopp’s arrival in October 2015 saw the England midfielder develop the consistency that was previously lacking and last season he started to justify his reputation – and price-tag.
But the injury curse continues to strike the 29-year-old and many are starting to wonder if the ex-Southampton captain’s best days are behind him.
Lallana must start to deliver – and soon.
Ranking: Flashes of brilliance but injuries becoming a real concern. B
3. Peter Crouch – Signed 2005 (£7m)
Coming a decade before the recent raids that have made Liverpool so unpopular on the south coast, the bean-pole striker, now at Stoke, was brought to Liverpool from Saints as Rafa Benitez sought to add a little height to the European Champions forward line.
The two metre frontman struggled to adapt to life at Anfield and it took him 19 games before he eventually scored his first Liverpool goal against Wigan in December 2005.
Crouch soon found his feet however, and the back of the net fairly regularly, and would go on to tally 42 goals in 134 appearances.
He was part of the Liverpool side that won the FA Cup in 2006 and “Crouchy” is fondly remembered by most Reds supporters.
Ranking: Scored some important goals and still remembered well by Reds fans. B+
2. Nathaniel Clyne – Signed 2015 (£12m)
Perhaps not the biggest name signing but the right back has been a beacon of consistency since his move in the summer of 2015.
The position was his own up until this season when injury has opened the door to his youthful competitors Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez.
Before that Clyne had barely missed a Liverpool game – with 93 appearances already – but the England full-back has been absent all campaign with a back problem.
He underwent a corrective operation in London recently as the Reds look for a cure to the long-standing issue. Hopefully he will be back to fight for his place soon.
Ranking: A lot depends on how he comes back from long term injury – but with Gomez and Alexander-Arnold many years his junior it may be tough for him to reclaim his starting spot. A-
1. Sadio Mane – Signed 2016 (£30m)
The Senegal winger was a smash hit when he first arrived from Southampton. People knew he was good – but not this good.
Eyebrows may have been raised when the Reds raided the Saints (yet again) and spent £30m, but the dynamic frontman soon made those early fears look laughable.
He netted 13 goals before injury ended his first Reds campaign in the Merseyside derby on April 1 last year.
However, he wasted little time picking up where he left off this term, adjusting superbly to a new left-sided role in Klopp’s front three.
His form has been a little patchy of late, and he has been over-shadowed by the exceptional Mohamed Salah – but he still remains an excellent bit of business for Liverpool.
Rankings: Electrifying on his day. A+
Virgil van Dijk – Signed 2017 (£75m)
It was a long drawn out saga but Liverpool finally snared Van Dijk in January for a club-record fee, the Dutchman enjoyed a dream debut as he scored the winning goal to knock Everton out of the FA Cup on January 5.
His second and third appearances however were not as memorable as the Reds stumbled to a surprise loss at Swansea and then undid all their good work against Everton by being knocked out of the FA Cup by West Brom – who scored three goals in the first half at Anfield.
The 26-year-old returned to the Liverpool side that drew 2-2 with Spurs last week, and although the most expensive defender in football history had some good moments he did concede the last-gasp penalty.
Despite this he seems to have the personality and character to anchor the Reds’ defensive line for many years to come.
Rating: Too soon to judge – but much can be expected from the big Dutchman. ?