Chelsea striker Diego Costa will miss the vital Premier League clash against Manchester City this weekend after being found guilty of violent conduct and banned for three matches after stamping on Liverpool midfielder Emre Can during the League Cup semi-final second leg.
The Spain international will also miss the matches away at Aston Villa and at home to Everton in the coming weeks after failing in his appeal against the Football Association charge, which came retrospectively after the incident was missed by referee Michael Olivier.
Olivier was asked by the FA whether he had seen the incident and if he would have shown a red card had he been party to the stamp by Costa in the first half. The 26-year-old claimed the episode was accidental in his appeal plea.
English football's governing body fast-tracked the disciplinary process in order for the sanctions to take effect in time for the next set of matches and comes as a huge blow to Chelsea, who will be without their top scorer for their most important match of the season so far.
Costa was also involved in incidents with Martin Skrtel and Steven Gerrard during the match but has only been punished for the single offence by the FA.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho denied any wrong-doing on the part of Costa during his post-match press conference but criticised an unnamed Sky Sports pundit of leading a campaign against the player's "crimes".
The news is compounded by the prospect of Cesc Fabregas, who has made 15 assists in the Premier League this season, also missing the game with a hamstring injury suffered during the 1-0 win over Liverpool on Tuesday 27 January.
The Blues can extend their lead over second place City to eight points with victory on Saturday 31 January and strengthen their grip on a Premier League title race they have led from the outset.
Manuel Pellegrini's side have won one of their last four league games and are without Yaya Toure and new signing Wilfried Bony, as both players are on international duty with the Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations.