As Francis Coquelin was being substituted and walking off the pitch against Crystal Palace at the weekend, it was clear for everyone to see that Arsene Wenger was protecting his player from being sent off.
Coquelin had already been cautioned in the first half for what must have been persistent fouling and then he was lucky not to be sent off, committing two further fouls in the second half while on a yellow card. Or was he?
This got me thinking, is your first foul after a booking a definite red card? We’ve all seen players on a yellow card getting sent off for a very timid offence, or something that you would normally say doesn't warrant a caution. But seeing as they were on a yellow we grudgingly accept that the sending off was warranted and deserved, or at the very least, it was coming.
Football fans can sometimes see a player on a yellow card as being on their last chance, or the card itself as a final warning before dismissal. But is this officially the case?
After checking the laws of the game here there is no mention of a separate ruling for the second yellow card.
The seven caution-able offences listed are: unsporting behaviour, dissent by word or action, persistent infringement of the Laws of the Game, delaying the restart of play, failure to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner kick, free kick or throw-in, entering or re-entering the field of play without the referee's permission, and deliberately leaving the field of play without the referee's permission.
The only reason I can see for Le Coq receiving his yellow card was for persistent fouling.
WhoScored.com notes that Coquelin committed four fouls in six attempts for the ball, which would constitute persistent fouling surely, with some of his challenges at the weekend more, clumsy than vicious or deliberate.
But each time he committed a foul after his initial booking we could hear the crown chanting ‘OFF, OFF, OFF’, baying for the blood coloured card, as they knew he was treading on thin ice. But were they right to expect it?
As the rules determining the second booking-sending off, are something of a grey area, is this something that needs to be looked at by the powers that be or should we accept the first booking as a warning and that one more infringement and you’re off?