James McClean among players who get suspended at Christmas and here is a list of those one booking away from a ban this year
Christmas is coming and some players have devious ways of ensuring they don’t have to be involved in the festive fixture list.
Several top level referees have confirmed in recent years that played have asked to be booked in a bid to miss the Christmas fixture list, with former Premier League refereeing highlighting the phenomenon with these comments.
“A couple of times around about Christmas time in the Premier League players will want the time off,” he stated. “They will say a yellow card might suit my purpose. It’s not what players want to hear, but it can happen.”
Here is your Independent.ie guide to players who mastered the art of picking up a ban, whether intentionally or not, at Christmas time, with some recurring names in the annual list of bad boys.
RAY PARLOUR - This former Arsenal defender Martin Keown claimed his old Gunners team-mate Ray Parlour got booked so he could get Christmas off, but his plan backfired as he ended up getting a second yellow card as contributed to his team’s defeat.
“I remember Ray Parlour being on four yellow cards and trying to get a booking against Newcastle in December 2001 to take him over the yellow-card limit,” said Keown. “He ended up getting two yellow cards and was sent off which he wasn’t trying to do!”
KEVIN NOLAN - This serial offender always seemed eager to pick up a suspension in December, with his stamp on Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson during his time as a West Ham player seeing him banned over the Christmas period for a fifth successive season.
While he didn’t always time his ban to coincide with the St Stephen’s Day fixture that so many players would rather avoid, he had a few New Year games off and also some pre-Christmas fixtures.
JAMES McCLEAN - Ireland’s firebrand winger was sent off for a shocking tackle on Bournemouth’s Adam Smith in the final game before Christmas in 2015, with his manager Tony Pulis issuing him with a heavy punish and a public dressing down after the incident.
McClean did not play again until January 9th, ensuring he had plenty of time to spend with his family over the festive season and he is one booking away from missing the St Stephen's Day games once again this year.
FABIO BORINI - The Liverpool striker was only on the field for 16 minutes of a Premier League game against Arsenal, but he still found time to pick up two yellow cards that meant he did not have to play in the Stephens Day fixtures.
It was one of many less than memorable moments for Borini during his time as a Liverpool player.
JAVIER MASHCERANO - Mashscerano made comments hinting he was not a big fan of playing over the festive season and he sorted that problem out by getting a red card in Liverpool’s final game before Christmas at Portsmouth in 2009.
His ban ensured he did not play again until January 16th, giving him his own winter break that doubtless involved a trip back to his native Argentina.
LAST YEAR’S BANNED LIST
These players were suspended from playing in the Premier League last year, with some of the yellow cards they picked up more than a little curious in their nature.
DIEGO COSTA - A yellow card for a needless challenge in a game at Crystal Palace gave Costa a week off before and after Christmas.
JAMIE VARDY - Eyebrows were raised as Vardy was sent off at Stoke for a wreckless lunge that resulted in a three-match ban.
SERGIO AGUERO - Sent off for a violent challenge at the end of Man City’s defeat against Chelsea last December, it ensured the Argentine striker had almost a month on the sidelines.
MARKO ARNAUTOVIC - This Austrian forward was sent off for a bizarre elbow into his opponent during a game against Southampton in mid-December, with his ban ensuring he did not play again until January 2017.
PLAYERS ONE BOOKING AWAY FROM A BAN TO MISS ST STEPHEN’S DAY GAME
Granit Xhaka (Arsenal)
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)
Steve Cook (Bournemouth)
Harry Arter (Bournemouth)
Glenn Murray (Brighton)
Anthony Knockaert (Brighton)
Lewis Dunk (Brighton)
Phillip Bardsley (Burnley)
Jack Cork (Burnley)
Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea)
Alvaro Morata (Chelsea)
Jason Puncheon (Crystal Palace)
Idrissa Gueye (Everton)
Ashley Williams (Everton)
Tommy Smith (Huddersfield)
Dejan Lovren (Liverpool)
Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)
Fernandinho (Manchester City)
Marcos Rojo (Manchester United)
Ashley Young (Manchester United)
Ander Herrera (Manchester United)
Leroy Sane (Manchester City)
Shola Ameobi (Stoke)
Kevin Wimmer (Stoke)
Joe Allen (Stoke)
Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham)
Jonny Evans (West Bromwich Albion)
James McClean (West Bromwich Albion)
Claudio Yacob (West Bromwich Albion)
Allan-Romeo Nyom (West Bromwich Albion)