The new season had not even begun and Rodri was already angling for some time off.
The virtually ever-present midfield pivot made more appearances across all competitions than any other Manchester City player as they claimed the European treble last season. Yet, Rodri described his workload as “not healthy” and fretted: “To be honest. I never get enough rest.”
Well, he’s set for a spell on the sidelines after picking up the first red card of his career against Nottingham Forest on 23 September. No sooner had Rodri reluctantly trudged down the tunnel that fans began to flick through the fixture list. Ringed in red was an imminent trip to Arsenal at the start of October, prompting an obvious question; will Rodri be available?
Here’s everything you need to know about the length of Rodri’s unwanted break.
City sauntered into the half-time interval utterly on top of Nottingham Forest, leading 2-0 and cruising towards a sixth-consecutive league win. Yet, Rodri emerged from the break with a bee in his bonnet and took it out on Morgan Gibbs-White.
Forest’s number ten had been jostling with Rodri by the corner flag but hardly warranted the forceful shove that was aimed his way.
Whether the Spaniard’s hands slipped onto Gibbs-White’s neck or Rodri purposefully throttled his opponent was not a debate referee Anthony Taylor entertained. Less than 30 seconds into the second half, Rodri was given his marching orders.
Rodri couldn’t be consoled – or contained – by his teammates / Michael Regan/GettyImages
The severity of suspension depends on the reasoning behind the red card. A second yellow would only earn a one-game ban and a dismissal for dissent brings two matches on the sidelines. However, a sending-off for “violent conduct” warrants a three-game layoff.
Law 12 in the FA rulebook defines violent conduct as “when a player uses or attempts to use excessive force or brutality against an opponent when not challenging for the ball”.
Few would argue that Rodri used excessive force when spinning to confront Gibbs-White, leaving the ball behind him. City can appeal the decision and theoretically have the possibility to reduce Rodri’s ban but the chances appear slim.
If Rodri is slapped with a three-match ban then he will indeed sit out what could be City’s toughest match of the Premier League thus far.
Pep Guardiola’s side have three games to navigate before travelling to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday 8 October but Rodri’s ban is only eaten away by domestic fixtures. Unlike yellow cards, sendings-off carry over to the Carabao Cup, ensuring that Rodri will miss City’s trip to St James’ Park to face Newcastle United in the third round on Wednesday.
The Sky Blues are again on the road against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the league next weekend before resuming their Champions League campaign against RB Leipzig at the start of October. Rodri, assuming Guardiola has forgiven his indiscretion, will be on the plane to Germany but cannot be part of the squad against Arsenal four days later.
Rodri played every minute of City’s Premier League games against Arsenal last season, overseeing a pair of wins by an aggregate 7-2 scoreline. The Gunners finished five points behind City in second place last term but have the chance to gain ground without the familiar figure of Rodri in their way.
Kalvin Phillips has played more minutes for England this season than Manchester City / Sportsphoto/Allstar/GettyImages
Rodri was so regularly used by Guardiola last season due to his mastery of the defensive midfielder role but also because of the little trust the coach had in the rest of his squad.
Kalvin Phillips’ future was desperately uncertain during the summer and Guardiola has offered him little reassurance with just seven Premier League minutes this season before Rodri’s red card. The Catalan coach did turn to Phillips in Rodri’s absence against Forest – although injury left him with few alternative options.
Summer arrival Mateo Kovacic could also fill in at the base of midfield but has struggled with back discomfort in recent weeks. John Stones regularly stepped into the centre of the pitch from centre-back last season, starting there would perhaps be easier than his hybrid role, but a nagging hip complaint has sidelined him since August.
If the endlessly versatile Bernardo Silva is out for the two weeks that Guardiola predicted, he would only just return to fitness in time for the Arsenal match.
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