Ivanovic appeals against 'kidney punch' ban
Published 19:28 11/04/12 By Martin Lipton
Chelsea have risked losing Branislav Ivanovic for FOUR matches after denying the defender's violent conduct charge.
Serbian strongman Ivanovic was captured on camera apparently punching Wigan's Shaun Maloney in the latter stages of Saturday's controversial home win over the Latics.
Ivanovic appeared to react to be shrugged aside by a Maloney elbow by striking a rabbit punch into the Wigan man's kidneys with his right fist and throwing a left into the Scot's chest.
While paperwork deadlines meant Ivanovic was free to play in Monday's draw at Fulham, he was charged with violent conduct on Tuesday under the FA'sd fast-track process.
That gave him until 6pm on Wednesday to accept the automatic ban and start a three-game ban in Sunday's FA Cup semi-final with Spurs.
But despite the seemingly clear-cut nature of the video evidence, Chelsea informed the FA they were contesting the charge.
It is understood that while Chelsea accept there was contact, they will argue it was not enough to warrant a violent conduct charge.
Ivanovic will discover his fate today when a hastily-arranged video panel will try the case in his absence but under FA rules the Serbian could be found to have made a frivolous appeal, which would add an extra game to the suspension.
If the verdict goes against Ivanovic, he will also miss the Premier League games with Arsenal and QPR while an extra match would mean he was suspended for the May 2 clash with top four rivals Newcastle.
Chelsea's decision hints at growing concerns over the looming defensive crisis with Ashley Cole a major doubt for Sunday with his ongoing ankle problem and John Terry still playing through the pain of two fractured ribs.
Manager Roberto Di Matteo has to weigh up the merit of asking Terry to risk aggravating the problem and potentially putting him out of Wednesday's Champions League semi-final first leg against Barcelona.
And if he is without Ivanovic, he must choose between Paulo Ferreira and his Portuguese compatriot Jose Bosingwa at right-back.