Virgil van Dijk was left fuming after being shown a straight red by referee John Brooks in the first half of Liverpool's clash with Newcastle on Sunday.
The Reds endured a nightmare opening 45 at St James' Park. A Trent Alexander-Arnold mis-control led directly to Anthony Gordon's opener, before Van Dijk was adjudged to have clipped Alexander Isak through on goal on 28 minutes.
It's the second straight red the Reds have been issued in as many outings, following Alexis Mac Allister's since rescinded sending off against Bournemouth last weekend.
Van Dijk's dismissal is already no less contentious than the Argentine midfielder's and Liverpool's captain was left furious by the referee's decision, clearly expecting the card to be overturned after a VAR review. It wasn't.
Social media was divided on the issue of whether Van Dijk's sending off was the right call.
Might not be the general consensus but that looked like a very harsh red card to me. @VirgilvDijk clearly got the ball. Maybe my eyes are getting worse in my old age.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) August 27, 2023
He only sent Van Dijk off coz he bottled sending Trent off for the foul on Gordon. He bottled sensing Trent off for the foul on Gordon coz he knew he’d fucked up with the first yellow.
— Ste Hoare (@stehoare) August 27, 2023
The reaction to the Van Dijk red card is further proof that referees (who, yes, frequently get it wrong) have absolutely no chance even when they get it right. He's clipped Isak before the ball as the last man - it's a sending off all day long, whether you like it or not.
— David Lynch (@dmlynchlfc) August 27, 2023
English football can’t make up its mind on how to referee a match.
Under last season’s guidance, Virgil van Dijk would be unfortunate to have conceded a foul for that challenge on Alexander Isak.
This season, he receives a straight red card. #NEWLIV
— Duncan Castles (@DuncanCastles) August 27, 2023
"You can't just go around swiping strikers"
The Super Sunday panel argue over Virgil van Dijk's red card 🟥😠 pic.twitter.com/OpeDrbjmDj
The ref lost control of this game as soon as he decided to ignore the foul on Trent.
— Sam McGuire (@SamMcGuire90) August 27, 2023
Been done by refereeing decisions in all three games. When does it end? When Klopp leaves? #LFC
— Charlotte Coates (@CACoates96) August 27, 2023
One thing is for certain and that is that Van Dijk was not pleased to get his first ever Premier League red card.
Liverpool's number four gave Brooks a piece of his mind and appeared to swear at the official, while taking his time before leaving the pitch. He then had to be ushered down the tunnel by Jurgen Klopp, seemingly to avoid further confrontation with the fourth official Craig Pawson, who he apparently told "don't touch me."
While the sending off is likely to be a one-game ban, due it being a non-violent foul, Van Dijk's conduct towards the match officials has raised some concerns that he could be forced out for longer.
If we're serious about this new age of stamping out dissent, Virgil van Dijk should have his ban extended. Appalling behaviour towards the official.
— Daniel Storey (@danielstorey85) August 27, 2023
Van Dijk is absolutely livid as he leaves the field. Has a few words with Klopp. We can't see replays in the stadium but the referee had no doubt
— Ian Doyle (@IanDoyleSport) August 27, 2023
Why was Van Dijk sent off?
While Van Dijk does clearly took the ball in his challenge with Isak – and it may look like a great challenge on first viewing – he did also clip the Swede's ankle first as he swiped across him on the edge of the 18-yard box.
That contact can be interpreted as a professional foul, with Isak potentially through on goal.
While it may be a tight call by Brooks, there was clearly not enough to overturn it as a 'clear and obvious error' through VAR.
What games will Van Dijk miss?
As long as the Dutchman's ban isn't extended for any reason related to his post-sending off outburst, he will sit out one game – the Reds' home tie against Aston Villa on Sunday, 3 September.
With Ibrahima Konate already a fitness doubt, the Reds already have a major headache over the backline for next weekend's fixture.