Sunday 17 December 2017

Jamie Vardy faces extra ban in blow to Leicester's hopes

Leicester striker facing two-game ban as Spurs close the gap

Leicester's Jamie Vardy reacts to being shown a red card. Photo: Reuters
Leicester's Jamie Vardy reacts to being shown a red card. Photo: Reuters

John Percy

Jamie Vardy has been charged with misconduct by the English Football Association and is likely to be hit with a two-match ban that threatens to derail Leicester City's title push.

Vardy is facing the prospect of having his suspension increased for his angry confrontation with referee Jonathan Moss, after his dismissal against West Ham on Sunday.

Leicester have also been charged with failing to control their players but it is the potential loss of Vardy for two games that could have severe repercussions for manager Claudio Ranieri, who saw this team's lead at the top of the table cut to five points by Tottenham's 4-0 win at Stoke City last night.

Harry Kane and Dele Alli both bagged braces as Spurs sent out an impressive message of intent.

Vardy was given a second yellow card for diving, after a tangle in the penalty area with West Ham's Angelo Ogbonna, and then jabbed a finger and swore at Moss before leaving the field. He has until Thursday to appeal until the case goes before an independent commission.

Chelsea striker Diego Costa was given an additional one-match ban last month and fined £20,000 after he was charged for his reaction to a red card at Everton and Vardy is facing the same punishment.

He will definitely miss the game against Swansea on Sunday but is now likely also to miss the trip to Manchester United, which could prove a pivotal match in the title race.

Former Leicester forward Gary Lineker described the charge as "ridiculous" on his Twitter account, while Leicester declined to comment.

Moss, meanwhile, will take charge of the Premier League game between Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion on Thursday evening and will be fourth official for Saturday's FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

'Worst refereeing performance of the season'

Moss' display at the King Power Stadium was branded "the worst refereeing performance of the season" by former Fifa official Keith Hackett.

"Jamie Vardy and his sending-off. . . his first yellow card, for me, was not an offence.

"Later, Moss was in a poor position to issue a second yellow for Vardy's alleged act of simulation," Hackett said. "Frankly this was too big a game for him - he failed to remain calm and in control. Tempo management was missing. He needed to put his foot on the ball. Moss was totally inconsistent with his decision making, highlighted by the large number of grappling offences that went unpunished.

"Crucially, we are seeing the product of weak refereeing throughout the season when it comes to grappling. The fact that referees are not penalising it in a consistent manner has made this a cancer in the game."

Vardy has started every league game this season and scored 22 goals to play a huge role in Leicester's remarkable campaign. It was the 29-year-old's first dismissal since September 2011, when he was shown a straight red card for Fleetwood against Kidderminster.

But Leicester are confident that Vardy's absence will not damage their title challenge, with Leonardo Ulloa and Shinji Okazaki expected to face Swansea. Riyad Mahrez could also be moved further up front while Ranieri has other options including the £3.75m signing Demarai Gray.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that West Ham co-chairman David Sullivan and his family were forced to leave their seats before the end of Sunday's game after suffering verbal abuse from the home support. It was reported the abuse from a certain section of the Leicester support started when Aaron Cresswell scored in the 86th minute to put West Ham 2-1 in front.

After the atmosphere became hostile and threatening, Sullivan, his partner and two sons were forced to leave their seats and watch the remainder of the match from inside the King Power Stadium.

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