Controversial Chelsea striker Diego Costa is facing a second three-match ban for violent conduct this year after he was charged retrospectively by the Football Association (FA) today.
The FA acted after referee Mike Dean acknowledged that he and his assistants had not spotted Costa putting his hands in Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny’s face during Saturday’s Premier League match.
Koscielny’s team-mate Gabriel, sent off during Chelsea’s 2-0 win for aiming a kick at Costa, has been additionally charged with improper conduct for continuing to protest after his dismissal.
That could see the Brazilian’s existing three-game ban lengthened, although Arsenal have also appealed his red card, arguing that it was the wrong decision and the suspension unwarranted.
On a busy day for the FA’s disciplinary department, Gunners midfielder Santi Cazorla was warned for protesting his own dismissal later in the bad-tempered game, while both teams have been charged with failing to control their players.
Costa, who served a three-match ban after being retrospectively charged with stamping on Liverpool player Emre Can in January, has until 6pm today to respond. If found guilty he will miss fixtures against Walsall, tomorrow in the Capital Cup, Newcastle and Southampton.
His charge came hours after Chelsea team-mate Kurt Zouma referred to the combative 26-year-old as someone who “likes to cheat a lot” – comments the young France defender swiftly attempted to retract.
Zouma, when asked post-match about Costa’s behaviour against Arsenal, told broadcaster beIN Sports: “Everyone knows Diego and this guy likes to cheat a lot and put the opponent out of his game. That happened in the game but he’s a really nice guy. We’re proud to have him.”
The 20-year-old later wrote on Twitter: “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 stands to miss tomorrow’s Capital One Cup trip to Tottenham and league games against Leicester and Manchester United unless Arsenal succeed in their appeals, which are set to be heard today.
Costa’s charge is unlikely to brighten the mood of Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, who defended his player after the game.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, had called on the FA to act, saying: “I would like them, especially Mike Dean, to look at the whole action that happened during the game and see if he stands for his decision.”