Liverpool’s loss to Manchester United widened the gap between the two clubs to five points in the battle for this season’s final Champions League place, but following an incident in stoppage time between Martin Skrtel and David de Gea, Liverpool could be set to suffer a second blow to their top four chances.
That’s because the FA have today confirmed that referee Martin Atkinson missed Martin Skrtel appearing to leave his foot in on the United goalkeeper as he prepared to blow the final whistle. And that means Skrtel has been charged and, having been charged is likely to be punished, for the act. A three-match ban, as would have resulted from a red, is considered the most likely result.
Replays made it appear as though Skrtel stepped on de Gea’s arm as he attempted to clear the United keeper, and though it was difficult to determine if the stamping action was deliberate, for the FA to officially charge the defender it almost certainly means that it was seen that way by the governing body. Rarely do the FA officially charge a player without going on to levy a punishment.
Earlier this season, Chelsea’s Diego Costa was handed a three-match ban for stamping on Liverpool’s Emre Can. However, in the same match he also appeared to stamp on Martin Skrtel. Replays of the second incident, as many thought was the case on Sunday, appeared inconclusive and so he was let off—and in fact not charged in the first place—for the second stamp.
A three-match ban would mean that Skrtel would miss games against Arsenal and Newcastle in the league and the replay against Blackburn in the FA Cup. It would also mean the return to the starting eleven for either Kolo Toure or Dejan Lovren.
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