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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 19, 2006

Referees picking on Sissoko- Benitez

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez believes Premiership referees are picking on Mohamed Sissoko.

The Reds midfielder has already picked up three bookings in four games this season, leaving him just two cautions away from a suspension.

Having amassed 11 yellows and a red at Sunderland during his debut campaign with the Merseyside giants, Sissoko is starting to build-up an unwanted reputation.

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho led the calls for the 21-year-old to be sent off at Stamford Bridge following a blatant foul on Frank Lampard after he had already been booked.

Fortunately for Liverpool, on that occasion, referee Mike Riley took a lenient view and allowed Sissoko to stay on the pitch.

Having spent plenty of time analysing other Premiership games, Benitez feels it was a rare case of his player receiving the benefit of the doubt.

And, on the eve of his side's match with Newcastle at Anfield, Benitez outlined his belief Sissoko has become a bit of an easy target.

'It is easy to show a yellow card to a young player who is not a big name,' said Benitez.

'You watch other games and see big names who do not get yellow cards at all and their tackles are maybe even worse.'

Benitez believes there is clear evidence to back up his claims already this season, although for now he is more concerned about defending Sissoko's reputation.

'He just needs more experience,' said the Liverpool manager.

'Sunday was a big game and people were talking about him.

'But he has a high work-rate and never goes into a tackle with a bad intention. Other players do much worse and receive nothing.'