Sunday 21 January 2018

Chelsea defender's comments pour oil on troubled waters as violent conduct charge leaves Costa facing three-match ban

Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny crashes to the ground after clashing with Diego Costa
Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny crashes to the ground after clashing with Diego Costa
Kurt Zouma said that Diego Costa liked to 'cheat a lot'

Matt Law

Diego Costa is facing a three-game retrospective ban after being charged with violent conduct by the English FA for putting his hands in the face of Laurent Koscielny during Chelsea's 2-0 victory against Arsenal last Saturday.

Gabriel has been charged with improper conduct after being sent off for a kick on Costa, while Arsenal have simultaneously submitted claims for wrongful dismissal and excessive charge over the Brazilian's dismissal.

Both Chelsea and Arsenal have been charged with failing to control their players in the bad-tempered match.

Referee Mike Dean has not received any punishment for his performance at Stamford Bridge, however, and will officiate the game between West Ham United and Norwich City on Saturday.

Dean and his assistants confirmed yesterday to the FA that they did not see the incident involving Costa and Koscielny that angered Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.


Dean booked Costa for a push on Koscielny but, on review, admitted that he would have sent off the striker if he or his assistants had seen the Spain international putting his hands in the defender's face.

Costa, 26, has until 6.0pm today to respond to the charge and the matter will be referred to a panel of three former referees, who review video footage independently to determine whether they consider the incident a sending-off offence.

Should they reach a unanimous guilty verdict, then Costa will have to serve a three-game ban that would rule him out of the League Cup tie against Walsall tomorrow, plus Premier League games against Newcastle United and Southampton.

Chelsea have refused to comment on Costa's charge but Jose Mourinho will be furious that his player is facing another suspension. The club's manager was angered by the fact that Costa was retrospectively banned last season after he was accused of deliberately stamping on Liverpool's Emre Can.

Costa's case this time around has not been helped by team-mate Kurt Zouma, who had to clarify comments he made in a television interview after the Arsenal game in which the France international said that the Brazilian liked to "cheat a lot".

Asked whether he was surprised that Costa's behaviour annoyed Arsenal players and staff, Zouma replied: "No, we're not surprised because we know Diego. Everyone knows Diego and this guy likes to cheat a lot and put the opponent out of his game."

Zouma, however, clarified his comments on Twitter by posting a message that read: "Sorry for any confusion, English is not my first language and I did not mean to accuse anyone of cheating. Simply to say….Diego is a player who puts pressure on his opponents and who I have huge respect for."

Gabriel was shown a straight red card for kicking Costa in the aftermath of the Koscielny incident, but Arsenal are fighting the player's three-game ban.

Under a new rule this season, clubs can submit claims for wrongful dismissal and excessive charge at the same time.

Arsenal have taken that option in an attempt to fully overturn Gabriel's suspension or get it reduced.

Ironically, Arsenal will use the Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic as a precedent in their attempts to get Gabriel's ban cut down if the claim of wrongful dismissal fails.

Matic was sent off for violent conduct in February after reacting to a dangerous tackle from the Burnley striker Ashley Barnes. However, he had his three-match ban cut to two games by an appeal commission, who cited that the "provocation" and "level of force" used in the incident warranted a decrease in punishment.

Arsenal's appeals over Gabriel will be heard today, while the Brazilian defender has until 6.0pm on Thursday to answer his charge of improper conduct.


Gabriel had to be restrained from confronting Costa again after receiving his red card and also had to be helped off the pitch by team-mates after, initially, refusing to leave the field.

The FA can issue Gabriel with either a fine or ban for improper conduct, which leaves open the possibility of him having his suspension for the red card reduced, but a further game added back on for the secondary offence.

Santi Cazorla has been warned about his behaviour for squaring up to the fourth official after he was shown a second yellow card.

Arsenal supporters have posted a petition on the internet calling for Dean to be banned from refereeing the club's games in future and by 6.0pm yesterday more than 70,000 people had signed it.

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