Hodgson may appeal against Cole's red card


ROY HODGSON said Liverpool may appeal against the first red card of Joe Cole’s career as the Liverpool manager and Arsene Wenger defended the “devastated” England international following an Anfield league debut to forget.

Cole was dismissed in first-half added time for a reckless challenge on Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny, who was carried off with what Wenger feared was a suspected broken leg only to reappear for the second half.

David Ngog looked to have rewarded 10-man Liverpool’s spirited response with victory, only for Jose Reina’s fumble to gift Arsenal an equaliser with seconds of the match remaining.

While neither manager disputed the referee Martin Atkinson’s decision, Hodgson admitted Liverpool would consider the merits of appealing against a red card that would suspend Cole for three matches and keep him sidelined in the Premier League until September 19th

“I have seen the TV replays and they suggest he is a little bit unlucky. He didn’t dive at the player, he dived in front of the ball, and their player got his legs twisted in that,” said the Liverpool manager, who will be without Cole away at Manchester City, at home to West Bromwich Albion and away at Birmingham City should the suspension stand.

“We are pleased to see it wasn’t a serious injury because he [Koscielny] was able to come out and play in the second half. Joe will be a big loss if he is suspended and maybe we will try and see if there is some way for the referee to have a look at it again.

“I don’t want to make a frivolous appeal, that’s for sure. Joe Cole has a great disciplinary record. He has never been sent off before and had only a few yellow cards. Anyone who watches Joe play knows he is not the sort of guy who goes in for blood-curdling tackles.”

Hodgson described Cole as “devastated” in the dressingroom at half-time. “It was his debut at Anfield,” Hodgson said. “He was so desperate to do well and, while he was not playing at the top of his game, he was trying hard to get there.”

The former Chelsea forward also received support from Wenger, although the Arsenal manager was more relieved that Koscielny had not suffered serious injury. Wenger said: “He is not one I would like to record as a guy who tries to hurt people. That is not his style. He was maybe a bit rash in his tackle and he kicked him accidentally as well because he had a big mark on his shin. Thankfully, his shin pad protected him well.

“We were scared it was broken. When he came off the pitch the physio said it could be broken but thankfully it wasn’t.”

The Arsenal manager admitted his side had, once again, failed to turn possession into penetration. “That is normal on the first day of the season with a lot of players coming back from the World Cup and from injuries.” He added: “We lacked a spark in the final third and combinations, but overall it was a good start.”

Wenger defended the debut of summer signing Marouane Chamakh, who was anonymous until pressuring Reina into spilling Arsenal’s leveller over his own goalline.

“I think he was maybe surprised by what this league is about, but he showed he is not afraid to put his head and body in, and he scored a goal. You don’t agree with me?”

Wenger committed to a new three-year contract at Arsenal before the game because, he said: “I love the club and I cannot see myself going anywhere else.”

But the Arsenal manager revealed he had rejected other offers before extending his tenure and will go if he feels he cannot take the club any further.