Arsenal seek ban redress

Gabriel may get lighter sanction after Chelsea player says Costa 'cheats a lot'

LONDON • Arsenal are to ask the English Football Association to reduce Gabriel Paulista's three- match ban in the wake of the Brazilian's red card in Saturday's fractious 2-0 English Premier League defeat by Chelsea.

Gabriel's ban on a charge of violent conduct will commence with tomorrow's League Cup tie at Tottenham Hotspur after the defender flicked out a heel at Diego Costa in stoppage time at the end of the first half at Stamford Bridge.

That flashpoint had come immediately after the pair had been booked after a clash in the Arsenal penalty area, with the referee, Mike Dean, consulting one of his assistants before producing the red card.

Arsenal will await written notice of the Brazilian's punishment but are then expected to return to the FA to argue for a reduced suspension. They will cite the example of Chelsea's Nemanja Matic, who was dismissed for his reaction to a foul from Burnley's Ashley Barnes in February.

The Serb was sent off for violent conduct following Barnes' reckless challenge.

His ban was reduced from three games to two by an appeals commission which confirmed that the "level of force" in the incident justified a reduction in the sanction.

Chelsea released a statement after that process claiming to be "appalled" that the ban had not been shortened to one game.

The FA was scheduled to scrutinise Dean's match report yesterday before determining whether Costa should face retrospective punishment for his clash with Laurent Koscielny two minutes from half-time.

That incident, when the forward put his hands on his marker's face and then swung his left arm round and made further contact, had effectively provoked the clash with Gabriel.

The latter had initially appeared to intervene as a peacemaker only to become embroiled in his own spat with the Chelsea forward.

If Dean confirms he witnessed the original clash between Koscielny and Costa and decided it did not warrant action - or if he explains that he booked the striker for his involvement in that incident rather than for the subsequent clash with Gabriel - then the Costa will not face punishment.

But Costa's cause took a hit yesterday when team-mate Kurt Zouma admitted that the Spaniard deliberately cheats.

"No, we're not surprised because we know Diego. This guy likes to cheat a lot and put the opponent out of his game," the defender told BeIN Sport. "But he's a really nice guy. We're proud to have him."

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will not face FA sanction for suggesting Dean was guilty of "naivety" in his handling of Costa.

However, it is understood that the FA is content he did not breach regulations.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2015, with the headline 'Arsenal seek ban redress'. Print Edition | Subscribe