It looked an ugly challenge that earned Emre Can his second yellow of the night. Stupid and reckless also came to mind as the Liverpool defender went flying, both feet up as plowed through the back of Danny Welbeck’s legs. His immediate protestations looked those of a player who realises he’s done something worthy of a card but is hoping desperately that the ref was distracted and looking away.
The ref wasn’t, and Can was rightly handed his second yellow of the night. After the match, though, Brendan Rodgers insisted that the tackle was one the player hadn’t meant to make, and that his protests had been an attempt to convince referee Anthony Taylor that, perhaps too accustomed to Anfield’s uncharacteristically bumpy and churned up surface, he’d only slipped on the Emirates turf rather than acting recklessly.
"In all fairness, he’s not that type of player," insisted the manager, falling back on one of the sport’s most unfortunate cliches, one that can often seem reserved for those who are exactly that sort of player. "He’s tried to reach around the back with his right foot but slips, and then it looks like a scissor challenge, but I know him well enough to know he’s not like that."
And to be fair to Rodgers, perhaps Can isn’t that sort and it was a genuine accident. Because the alternative would be that he’s not an especially bright player to dive in so recklessly while already on a yellow. Even attempting to dive in aggressively but legally, though, was a dubious choice with Welbeck isolated in the corner and shielding the ball from Can. But it wouldn’t be quite as bad as the alternative.
Whatever the case, Can will now miss Wednesday’s FA Cup replay, and with Kolo Toure having his worst outing of the season the stage seems set for a return to four at the back with a Dejan Lovren-Mamadou Sakho partnership. It could also lead to a return to the lineup for Javier Manquillo, whose skill set seems far more suited to fullback than wingback.