Chelsea face defensive crisis13/04/2012 - 08:18:36
Chelsea could be without both of their first-choice full-backs for this weekend’s FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham after Branislav Ivanovic was handed a three-match ban for violent conduct last night.
Ivanovic will miss Sunday’s London derby, and the club’s following two league games after the Football Association (FA) found the Serbian guilty of hitting Wigan midfielder Shaun Maloney in the midriff.
Referee Mike Jones did not see the incident, which allowed the FA to charge the right-back retrospectively. Ivanovic denied the charge and based his defence on his insistence that while there was contact, it was not violent.
The FA panel ruled that was not the case, however, leaving the west London club disappointed.
“Chelsea Football Club is disappointed the FA Regulatory Commission today (Thursday) found Branislav Ivanovic guilty of violent conduct in Saturday’s Premier League match against Wigan,” a club statement read.
“Chelsea FC does not believe the incident was violent. We note that the FA did not deem our appeal frivolous and it therefore had merit.”
The news is a big blow to Roberto Di Matteo, who has come to count on the 28-year-old defender since his appointment as interim manager last month.
Di Matteo has the luxury of two backups in the form of Paulo Ferreira and Jose Bosingwa, but the former has only played a handful of games so far this season, and the latter’s form has been poor.
The Italian already has selection concerns at the back ahead of Sunday’s clash against Harry Redknapp’s side at Wembley.
Ashley Cole, a six-time FA Cup winner, was left out of Monday’s draw at Fulham due to an ankle injury, while captain John Terry has had to play through the pain barrier recently having broken two ribs against Benfica.
It remains to be seen whether Di Matteo will risk playing either on Sunday, especially with the club’s Champions League semi-final against Barcelona coming on Wednesday night.
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