Chelsea draw up dossier to get Matic's ban cut
Chelsea are preparing a dossier of evidence that may point the finger at Jan Vertonghen, Jack Wilshere and Joe Hart as they attempt to have Nemanja Matic's three-game ban reduced.
Matic is almost certain to miss the League Cup final against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley after Chelsea decided to launch an appeal on the grounds of excessive sentence, rather than wrongful dismissal.
Matic was sent off by Martin Atkinson for reacting to a dangerous tackle from Burnley's Ashley Barnes by pushing the forward to the ground.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was furious about the incident, and he and the club are understood to be angry by the FA's decision not to retrospectively punish Barnes.
Vertonghen also escaped punishment at the weekend for a push on West Ham midfielder Mark Noble, when the Tottenham central defender reacted to a foul on Nabil Bentaleb.
As a result, unlike Matic, Vertonghen is free to play in the League Cup final.
The incident is one of at least five this season that Chelsea have considered submitting with their evidence to try to argue that Matic should not have to serve a three-game ban for his actions. The Blues have until 1.0pm today to submit their evidence and an independent commission will hear the case on the same day.
Vertonghen's grab around the throat of Sheffield United's Chris Basham in the semi-finals of the League Cup could also be put forward.
Other than Vertonghen, Chelsea are ready to highlight the fact Swansea City's Wayne Routledge had a red card rescinded after he was sent off for retaliating against a Karl Henry foul, Wilshere's headbutt into the chest of Marouane Fellaini that was ignored and Hart's head-to-head confrontation with referee Michael Oliver that went unpunished in the Manchester derby.
Mourinho has received the full backing of the Chelsea board and owner Roman Abramovich over the perceived injustices, which the Portuguese manager aired during an appearance on Sky Sports' 'Goals on Sunday'.
Within hours of Tottenham's 2-2 with West Ham at White Hart Lane, Chelsea's official Twitter feed linked an article on the club's website headlined 'weekend inconsistencies'.
The article was written by former Chelsea player Clive Walker, who works for the club's television and radio stations, and said: "I saw Jan Vertonghen shove Mark Noble over today and not get any punishment. What is ridiculous is that the referee will have known what happened yesterday yet in a similar scenario he didn't give any card. He should have seen that clearly.
"What everyone asks for is that simple word - consistency."
Other than simply highlighting previous incidents, Chelsea will also point to sympathy for Matic from current and former managers and players as part of their appeal.
Chelsea decided against arguing wrongful dismissal, as it would have carried the risk of Matic being banned for a further game. The priority appears to be to make sure he is available for as many Premier League games as possible after Manchester City cut Chelsea's lead at the top of the table to five points.
Barnes will not face any retrospective action after the FA confirmed that referee Atkinson saw the incident and felt he had dealt with it.
An FA statement read: "In the vast majority of challenges for the ball, no retrospective action is taken as the incident has been seen by the match officials.
"Retrospective action was introduced as deterrent for off-the-ball incidents (eg, kicks, stamps etc.) committed out of sight of officials."
BBC pundit Gary Lineker reacted to the FA's statement by writing on Twitter: "So Martin Atkinson did see Ashley Barnes' tackle on Matic. Wow!"
Mourinho felt that it was a "criminal" tackle from Barnes that was missed by Atkinson and the Portuguese has received support from former referees' chief Keith Hackett.
On his blog for the 'You are the ref' website, Hackett wrote: "In recent weeks we have witnessed an improvement in the performances of Martin Atkinson after early season displays not worthy of a professional referee.
"His performance in the Chelsea v Burnley game was not worthy of any referee at any level. It was an incompetent display and one of the worst I have ever seen in a game of football.
"In the 30th minute, Burnley's Ashley Barnes committed a foul challenge on Branislav Ivanovic. It was penalised by Atkinson, but to my amazement there was no disciplinary sanction. Barnes should have been dismissed, as it was a clear red card offence.
"Why did Atkinson not sanction with a red card? It is the question his boss Mike Riley, General Manager and a director of the PGMOL, should be asking." (© Daily Telegraph, London)