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Aguero deserves the ban, but what Fabregas did was equally cringe-worthy

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© Getty Images

Aguero deserves the ban, but what Fabregas did was equally cringe-worthy

Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho were sent off in the final minutes of Chelsea's 3-1 win over Manchester City which could see them out for four and three games respectively. But did anyone notice that it was Cesc Fabregas who provoked an angry reaction out of Fernandinho?

It has been a while since we have not witnessed a big brawl on a big matchday. Such incidents help add flavour to the rivalries, give more stuff for writers to mention it in their “Best clashes ever list”, but many times, the culprits slip away unnoticed. On Saturday, it was a bit surprising that Diego Costa was not the initial perpetrator of the melee that happened at the Etihad Stadium. Sergio Aguero lost his cool when he launched into a horrific challenge on David Luiz in the final minutes of the game. This prompted striker Nathaniel Chalobah to push away the Argentine thus starting a huge brawl on the touchline involving the coaching staff and all the players. After things started to simmer down, Fernandinho pushed Cesc Fabregas after catching him by his throat into the advertising boards. 

There is no doubt that Aguero's tackle on Luiz was clearly malicious and Fernandinho charging at Cesc Fabregas was also not professional behaviour. The City duo are now suspended for four and three matches respectively—a fitting punishment for their actions. But, it is difficult to notice in the whole mix-up that Fernandinho was trying to calm things down when Cesc Fabregas slapped the midfielder on his cheek, which set him off. Even though Fernandinho reacted more violently by pushing Fabregas into the advertising boards, there is no doubt the original fault lies with Fabregas.

In fact, the Spaniard's provocation tactics are not new for fans who followed him during his three-year stint with Barcelona. There were multiple instances where the Barca players provoked, over reacted or dived to get the opposition players sent off, and Fabregas' moment came during a Clasico match in 2011 when Marcelo tackled him from the back. The midfielder rolled down in pain which had all the players and coaching staff going at each others' throats. Even after the massive brawl which saw the then Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinhopoke Barca's assistant coach Tito Vilanova in the eye and the referee sending off three Madrid players, Fabregas was still lying on the pitch acting like he was the victim.

And Pep Guardiola, Fabregas' manager at Barca at that time, who also kept away from the tussle yesterday, will have surely known how good his former player is at this stuff. But out of professional courtesy, the Man City manager did not point this out in his post-match interview and was neutral by saying, “Fernandinho went to defend his team-mates, because what happened with Nolito was red card and three games. So Fern went to defend his team-mates because of that.”

This could, however, also mean that Guardiola had noticed Fabregas' provocation during the match, but is waiting for a discussion with the club management to put in a request with the Football Association. If Fabregas is found guilty, Fernandinho's ban could be reduced by a match or two.

 ©Getty Images

For instance, in September 2015, Arsenal's centre-half Gabriel Paulista was sent off during the match against Chelsea for head-butting striker Diego Costa and was slapped with a three-game suspension initially. But after taking a closer look at the confrontation, the special referee panel of the match decided that it was not the Arsenal defender, but Costa who had provoked the reaction from the Brazilian while also being involved in a confrontation with Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny during the course of the game. Following this, the Football Association (FA) decided to overturn the ban on Gabriel and handed Diego Costa a three-match ban for violent conduct. Taking this example, it would be better if the authorities do some digging into the footage of the final minutes starting from Aguero's tackle and notice that it was Fabregas who tried to put Fernandinho on the edge and got him sent off.

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