Carlo Ancelotti has suggested the controversy over Jordan Pickford’s challenge on Virgil van Dijk in the Merseyside Derby last week contributed to Lucas Digne’s red card against Southampton on Sunday.
Digne was dismissed for raking his studs down Kyle Walker-Peters ankle in the 72nd minute of the Toffees’ 2-0 defeat at St Mary’s.
The game was settled by first-half strikes from James Ward-Prowse and Che Adams, with the visitors never really recovering.
Speaking after the contest, Ancelotti mused that referee Kevin Friend’s decision may have been influenced by the furore that has been brewing about Pickford’s challenge on Van Dijk, which caused a tear in the Dutchman’s anterior cruciate ligament and will likely see him miss the majority of the season.
“The red card was a joke. Maybe the fact that there was a lot of talk about Pickford and Richarlison against Liverpool affected this decision,” he said (via BBC Sport).
“I think everyone knows that it was not a red card. We are going to appeal. To lose a player like Digne for three games. It is not fair. For sure, it was not a red card.”
Digne had two goes at bringing down Walker-Peters as the Toffees chased the game, but it was the second that drew the ire of referee Kevin Friend. Trying to keep pace with the Spurs man, Digne trod on the outside of his opponent’s ankle to send him sprawling to the ground.
Friend showed the Frenchman a straight red card and the VAR did not see it as a clear and obvious error by the referee.
As Ancelotti alluded to, Everton are already without Richarlison following his late red card against Liverpool, and now fellow key man Digne will join him in the sin bin.
Both players will miss the upcoming games against Newcastle and Man Utd, while Digne will also be out for the trip to Fulham after the November international break.