Updates From Tuesday, Jan. 21:
Rob Harris of The Daily Mirror reports that Vidic's suspension has been upheld by the FA, meaning the centre back will miss the next three matches:
FA rejects Man United captain Vidic's appeal against sending off at Chelsea ... so banned for 3 games— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) January 21, 2014
Losing Nemanja Vidic to a red card in Manchester United's Jan. 19 loss to Chelsea didn't impact the final result, but it could spell doom as he will miss the club's next three contests.
Late in stoppage time of a 3-1 loss, Vidic harshly brought down Chelsea's Eden Hazard with a vicious scissor-kick tackle that drew an immediate red from the official despite protests from multiple Red Devils players.
As Guardian Sport on Twitter noted with this post, Vidic's sending off means that he will be suspended for Manchester United's upcoming Capital One Cup showdown with Sunderland at home:
Red card! Vidic sent off for Man Utd in 90th minute and will be suspended for Capital Cup semi-final second leg http://t.co/jWg5cMA3k2— Guardian sport (@guardian_sport) January 19, 2014
Vidic and the rest of the back line were obviously frustrated with the end result in what was seen by many as a needed result in order to stay alive in the quest to retain their Premier League title.
That feeling apparently compounded in Vidic when Hazard came cutting through United's defense once again, with stoppage time as the only thing keeping Chelsea from a two-goal win.
The end result was Vidic slicing Hazard's legs out from under him, sending the Blues forward tumbling to the pitch and ensuring plenty of argument after the official showed red.
Though obvious in intent, the 32-year-old Serbian's mishap may not have been the ugliest tackle in the closing minutes for United, as Rafael took down a Chelsea player with a spikes-up tackle that only drew yellow. Red Devils boss David Moyes thought the calls could have been flipped, per The Telegraph's Henry Winter:
Moyes thought Vidic's red "was a yellow" but that Rafael's yellow could have been "a red". #mufc— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) January 19, 2014
Moving forward will be tough without the defender, who has made over 200 appearances for United.
Did Vidic deserve the red?
Moyes' defense already isn't in a great spot, facing instability with lineups and coming off a defensive performance the United manager called "terrible" in the Chelsea loss, per ESPN FC's Miguel Delaney.
Losing Vidic will likely only make that worse. He certainly hasn't been in his best form during this season, but the fact that he is the club's most valuable defender—and one of the most important players, period—still has not changed.
United are fortunate that Sunderland are up next, as they are tied for last in the EPL, but they have gotten results in each of their last four competitions.
And as Chris Young of Sunderland Echo tweeted, no Vidic could further help Sunderland against a defense that has already seen its fair share of struggles in keeping balls from flying toward goalkeeper David de Gea at will:
Vidic suspended against #SAFC after red card. Against a suspect Man United defence, that's a real boost— Chris Young (@YoungSunEcho) January 19, 2014
Plus, after a 2-1 win against the Red Devils in the first leg, Sunderland are sitting pretty heading into Old Trafford and face a decent shot at knocking off United again if they expose the struggling defense correctly.
Considering that chances of another EPL title are becoming seriously out of reach for United, the Capital One Cup may be one of their only chances at getting some hardware for the season.
Now, they're in a much worse position to obtain said hardware.