Chelsea midfielders Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic are among eight players who are only one booking away from a two-match suspension going into the last weekend in which they would pick up such a ban for collecting 10 yellow cards.
A caution in this weekend’s game against QPR for either midfielder would see them suspended for the two hugely important games against Manchester United and Arsenal, and could go on to hurt Chelsea’s chances of a first Premier League title in five years.
Matic and Fabregas are not the only ones who may be going into tackles with a bit more caution this weekend though. At the other end of the table, Aston Villa’s Ciaran Clark and QPR’s card-friendly captain Joey Barton are both a booking away from a two-match suspension, hurting both club’s chances of Premier League survival.
Clark would miss Aston Villa’s FA Cup semi-final at Wembley against either Liverpool or Blackburn and their away match against flatering Manchester City, while Joey Barton would be out for their crucial matches against west Ham at Loftus Road and Liverpool away.
Southampton, who still have an outside chance of a top-four spot, are another side who would be missing a player if he was to pick up a yellow this weekend, with Victor Wanyama having accrued nine so far. A booking would mean Wanyama would miss games against Stoke away and Tottenham at home, both of which the Saints would need to win to have any chance of a Champions League place.
Players on nine bookings:
Nemanja Matic (Chelsea)
Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea)
Victor Wanyama (Southampton)
Winston Reid (West Ham United)
Phil Bardsley (Stoke City)
Neil Taylor (Swansea City)
Joey Barton (QPR)
Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa)