Manchester City established a 2-0 lead over Nottingham Forest at Etihad Stadium on Saturday thanks to early goals by Phil Foden and Erling Haaland – but as the game wore on, the main talking point dramatically shifted away from the game and towards Man City’s future team selection.
Just seconds after the second half restart, Rodri and Morgan Gibbs-White went nose-to-nose on the touchline, and after some pushing and shoving, the City midfielder was immediately shown City’s first red card of the season by referee Anthony Taylor.
Forest went on to dominate possession and have the next five shots in the game, but City managed to see out victory despite playing 45 minutes down a man. The real issue for Pep Guardiola lies ahead now, because Rodri’s red card for violent conduct will trigger a three-match ban and deprive the City manager of his PFA Team of the Year member and reigning Champions League Player of the Season for a trio of crucial domestic fixtures.
The Sporting News details exactly what City face as they plan to be without one of their most vital players.
Rodri was given a red card for this altercation with Gibbs-White. pic.twitter.com/fri41oDzak
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 23, 2023
Rodri suspended for three matches, including Arsenal away
All violent conduct red cards come with a standard three-match suspension, which suddenly gives Pep Guardiola a headache and Rodri some time to think about his actions.
Rodri will miss his next three domestic fixtures, and the way the schedule shakes out, all three games will be on the road.
The Spaniard will first miss the upcoming EFL Cup third round match at Newcastle, a very difficult draw now made even more challenging without their star midfielder.
Rodri will also miss the Premier League trip to Wolves, and while he can return for a Champions League visit to RB Leipzig, he will return to the bench for the enormous tilt against Arsenal at The Emirates, which promises to be a gargantuan meeting with potential title implications between the top two in 2022/23.
Should Rodri not receive any further punishment from the FA for the first dismissal of his career, he would return for the home league match against Brighton & Hove Albion – but any additional punishment could see him out for even longer.
Arsenal upcoming matches
|Wed, Sep. 27||EFL Cup
|Sat, Sep. 30||Premier League||at Wolves||Yes|
|Wed, Oct. 4||Champions League
|at RB Leipzig||No|
|Sun, Oct. 8||Premier League||at Arsenal||Yes|
|Sat, Oct. 21||Premier League||vs. Brighton||No*|
* Rodri could potentially receive further punishment upon FA review that would see him banned for additional games on top of the standard three-match ban
Rodri sent off for putting hands around neck of Gibbs-White
Rodri was consumed by the red mist against Nottingham Forest, attempting to shield the ball out of play by a corner flag.
Hounded by Gibbs-White, who looked to apply a few shoves before the whistle blew, Rodri blew his top, going nose-to-nose with the Forest midfielder before giving him a two-handed shove in the chest.
While naughty, that would probably have been only yellow-card worthy had Rodri not then truly lost his head. As the two came back together, again coming face-to-face, Rodri gave Gibbs-White another shove, but this time did so with his hands squarely around the neck of his opponent.
It was only for the tiniest fraction of a second, but that action was enough to put him in real trouble. Gibbs-White reacted theatrically, and as Rodri gave him another chest bump, the Forest man threw himself to the ground. Taylor had seen enough, immediately producing a red card without a moment’s hesitation.
Watch in USA:
Manchester City are down to 10 men after Rodri received a red card following an intense confrontation with Morgan Gibbs-White.
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) September 23, 2023
Watch in Canada:
Rodri with a Red Card vs. Nottingham Forest, 09/23/2023 pic.twitter.com/TijOdhQHjf
— FuboCanada ???????? (@fuboTVCanada) September 23, 2023
Guardiola hopes Rodri will “learn” from red card
Man City manager Pep Guardiola will now have a selection headache after Rodri’s actions, and the boss made his frustrations known after the win over Nottingham Forest.
Speaking to the media following the match, Guardiola said Rodri will “hopefully learn” from his first career straight red card. When asked if he was upset with Rodri, Guardiola replied: “Yes – I do not like playing with 10 men.”
“Rodri has to control himself and his emotions – this is what he has to do,” Guardiola added. “I can get a yellow card but Rodri cannot get a yellow card, I do not play. The guys [on the field] have to be careful.”
Guardiola compared Rodri’s red card to Kyle Walker’s sending-off against RB Leipzig, when the Man City full-back was sent off in the 2022-23 Champions League for letting out his frustration with a furious kick to the back of Andre Silva’s leg.
The Man City boss didn’t hold back his frustration after that incident either, saying he was “so angry” with Walker for leaving City without the England international’s services.
Who will replace Rodri during red card suspension?
Rodri is arguably the most important player in the Man City squad and his loss will undoubtedly be felt, but they are still City, and thanks to one of the deepest squads in Europe, Guardiola has a plethora of choices to bridge the three-match gap.
The sparingly-used Kalvin Phillips was sent on following Rodri’s red card and could be a candidate to play minutes, but his cavernous position on the depth chart will mean others are more likely to see the field.
Mateo Kovacic is struggling with a back injury and missed the Forest match as a result, but Guardiola said he is “nearly back” and the summer signing from Chelsea is a likely choice to be selected. New signing Matheus Nunes will also likely be deployed, and Bernardo Silva could also be moved back if needed.
John Stones has proven himself extremely capable in the No. 6 position in the past, but he’s currently sidelined with a thigh injury, with no clarity on when he will return.