Should Rafa Benitez risk a David Luiz suspension by playing him in the FA Cup Semifinal?

Mike Hewitt

Rafa faces a tough decision on Sunday in regards to David Luiz. If the defender plays and gets booked, he'll be suspended due to accumulated yellows.

There have been rumblings out of London today that suggest that Rafa Benitez might be considering sitting center back David Luiz down for this weekend's FA Cup tie against Manchester City. While Luiz is certainly going to be involved in any full-strength lineup that Rafa can name, he's currently sitting on 9 yellow cards for the 2012/13 season. That puts him 1 yellow away from a mandatory 2-game suspension, which would have to be served in our Premier league matches against Fulham and Liverpool.

Should Luiz manage to get through this weekend without picking up a 10th yellow, cautions would no longer be much of an issue this season. To understand why, let's take a look at the rule in question:

7. PUNISHMENTS - Relating to First Team Competitive Matches.

(A) CAUTIONS ADMINISTERED ON THE FIELD OF PLAY

I) If a player accumulates 5 (five) recorded cautions in FTCM between the opening day of the Playing Season and the last day in February in the same Season, he will be suspended automatically for a period covering: - One First Team Match

II) If a player accumulates 5 (five) recorded cautions in FTCM between the opening day of the Playing Season and the last day of the same Season, he will be: - "Warned as to his Future Conduct"

III) A player who has already been subject to disciplinary action as a result of recording 5 (five) cautions and then goes on to record a further 5 (five) cautions during the same Season, will be subject to the following punishments: -

IV) If a player accumulates 10 (ten) recorded cautions in FTCM between the opening day of the Playing Season and the second Sunday of April in the same Season, he will be suspended automatically for a period covering: - Two First Team matches

V) If a player accumulates 10 (ten) recorded cautions in FTCM between the opening day of the Playing Season and the last day of the same Season, he will be: - "Severely Censured and Warned as to his future Conduct"

VI) If a player accumulates 15 (Fifteen) recorded cautions in FTCM between the opening date of the Playing Season and the last day of the same Season, he will be suspended automatically for a period covering: - Three First Team matches

VII) A player who has already been subject to disciplinary action as a result of recording 5 (five), 10(ten) and 15 (fifteen) cautions, and who goes on to record 20 (twenty) cautions in FTCM in the same Season, shall be required to attend a meeting of a Disciplinary Commission, within 14 days of the date of the last caution. The Members of a Commission shall have the power to deal with the player in such manner as they deem fit. The same procedure will apply for every further 5(five) cautions recorded against a player.

Luiz is about to hit 10 cautions, and this Sunday will be the second in April. According to the rule, he'll have to serve a 2-match ban if he picks up a booking on Sunday*.

*Also of note for Chelsea fans, Luis Suarez is currently on 9 yellows as well. If he picks up a booking against Reading this weekend, he'd be unavailable for the Chelsea match.

Should he get through Sunday's match without being booked, he'd be in a situation where he'd have 6 more yellow card to play with during a maximum of 8 FA games. He'd seem unlikely to be cautioned at that sort of rate going forward, so he'd appear to be in the clear if he can just make it through this weekend.

This brings up an interesting situation. Luiz clearly makes our starting 11 better, and Sunday's game is a knockout semifinal against a tough side at Wembley. Most seasons, you'd play Luiz against City wothout a second's hesitation, and simply hopes he avoids picking up a yellow card.

This season though, we're in a dogfight for a Champions league place. All of the rhetoric out of Stamford Bridge suggests that we're prioritizing a 3rd or 4th place finish over the cups, and losing the defender for a pair of Premier League contests would be a big blow in that regard. An argument can certainly made for sitting Luiz for the semifinal in order to assure he doesn't miss 2 games later on.

With that in mind, I wanted to know where the community stood on this issue. Would you play Luiz on Sunday, crossing your fingers and hoping for the best? Or would you rather ensure you have Luiz around for both Fulham and Liverpool by playing Branislav Ivanovic and John Terry against the defending Premier League champions? Vote in the poll below and use the comments section to discuss the matter.

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