Chelsea will almost certainly be without talismanic midfielder Nemanja Matic for Sunday’s Capital One Cup final against Tottenham, despite launching an appeal against his red card.
This is according to the Mirror, who understand the Serbia international is set to miss this weekend’s Wembley showdown - arguably the biggest match of Chelsea’s season so far - after being sent off for his reaction to a dangerous challenge from Burnley striker Ashley Barnes
Chelsea have until 1pm on Tuesday to submit all their evidence - and the case will be heard by a three-man independent commission before the verdict is delivered.
Matic ban likely to be reduced to one game
The Blues have appealed on the grounds of excessive punishment and leave Matic at risk of an extra game ban if the panel deem the appeal to be frivolous.
But Chelsea hope Matic’s three-match ban for violent conduct will be reduced to a one-game punishment, which means he would be available for the Blues’ forthcoming Premier League fixtures against West Ham and Southampton but will still miss Sunday’s Capital One Cup final.
Article continues below
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was incensed with the initial challenge from Barnes - and even branded the tackle as ‘criminal’ during a heated appearance on Sky Sports’ Goals on Sunday.
The Portuguese coach and Matic himself had every right to feel furious with the challenge, which could easily have resulted in a season-ending injury for the 26-year-old.
But by shoving Barnes to the ground, Matic has foolishly ruled himself out of Chelsea’s most important match of the 2014-15 campaign to date.
Tottenham can upset Matic-less Chelsea
Mourinho’s men head into the final as the narrow favourites but can ill-afford to underestimate their London rivals, who humiliated them at White Hart Lane last month.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side recorded a 5-3 win over the west London outfit on New Year’s Day - a result which should convince Spurs they have what it takes to cause another upset this weekend.
That Matic will miss the match will come as a further boost to Tottenham; the former Benfica star has established himself as a key player in Chelsea’s midfield since returning to Stamford Bridge in January 2014 and will be missed.
Mourinho must now look to other options in his squad. Sky Sports speculate that Brazilian midfielder Ramires could step in for Matic, while youngster Nathan Ake is another option.
Tottenham are currently without a win in three matches, but have every chance of beating the Matic-less Chelsea at Wembley on Sunday afternoon.
Will Chelsea beat Tottenham in the Capital One Cup final without Nemanja Matic? Post your score predictions in the comments below!