Marcel Sabitzer, a Manchester United midfielder, was not sent off against Leicester City for a dangerous challenge on Wout Faes and will thus be eligible for the Red Devils’ trip to Anfield next month
Former Liverpool captain Graeme Souness believes Marcel Sabitzer was fortunate to avoid a red card during Manchester United’s victory over Leicester City on Sunday, since a red card would have resulted in a suspension for the Red Devils’ visit to Anfield next month.
The Austrian, who joined United from Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich on loan last month, unleashed a dangerous challenge on Foxes defender Wout Faes near the conclusion of the first half. However, referee Stuart Atwell only gave the challenge a yellow card, and VAR officials at Stockley Park agreed that the challenge did not merit a red card.
Yet at half-time of Sky Sports’ Super Sunday coverage, Souness thought the United midfielder was lucky to avoid a sending-off and was in question that the challenge had all the hallmarks of “dangerous play”.
“100%,” Souness said when asked if Sabitzer should have been handed his marching orders. “I believe this is a red card for a number of reasons.
“For starters, he’s partly to blame because he’s on his heels, Faes, when this ball breaks due to him not being aware of it, but that, Sabitzer has turned side-on to him, and it’s a classic case of if you’re going to go and do someone, that’s how you do it.
“You tilt sideways. What will he do with the ball if he makes contact with it? He is staring at the player. That is a sending off, regardless of what some referee who has never played the game says. If that isn’t harmful, what is?
“Ask any professional footballer, he’s turned side-on, that’s a classic case of setting yourself up to do someone,” Souness remarked.
Former Chelsea forward Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink quickly chimed in, admitting he, too, was “surprised” by Atwell’s decision to just show a yellow card.
With the game tied at 1-0 after to a run of world-class saves from David de Gea, United accelerated after the break and a second goal from Marcus Rashford was quickly followed by a Jadon Sancho tap-in following a sweeping counter-attack, extending Erik Ten Hag’s side’s lead to three goals.
If Sabitzer had been sent off, he would have been ruled out of Manchester United’s visit to Anfield on March 5, with a red card for violent conduct triggering an automatic three-game ban. He would also have missed United’s League Cup final against Newcastle United the following weekend.