Chelsea striker Diego Costa is braced for another lengthy spell on the sidelines as The Football Association prepares to decide whether to take retrospective action against the Spain international. Costa was caught by television cameras kicking out at Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel during the 3-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge, an incident which went unpunished by referee Mark Clattenburg.
The FA will wait to assess Clattenburg's match report following the game before deciding whether to take action. If the official has not seen, or only had view of a "coming together" between the two players, then the authorities are likely to take action. Even if Clattenburg has seen the episode, the game's governing body could still punish Costa if it deems the incident to be serious.
Costa is expected to learn on Monday [2 November] whether he will be charged with violent conduct, a punishment which after his three-game ban for striking Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny earlier in the campaign, carries an additional one-match ban which will see him miss four matches. Though the 26-year-old would be available for the midweek Champions League group game against Dynamo Kiev, he would miss Chelsea's Premier League meetings with Stoke City, Norwich City, Tottenham Hotspur and AFC Bournemouth.
Ex-Premier League official Howard Webb – who refereed the 2010 World Cup final – believes the Chelsea forward will escape a ban given that Clattenburg had a full view of the incident. "They (The FA) will have a look I think," Webb told BT Sport, according to The Independent. "I think it is a clear red card. He commits a foul on Martin Skrtel, then there is a little kick. The second action is a clear act of violent conduct. Mark Clattenburg is pretty close and is in a good position and it's difficult to say that he hasn't seen this.
"Normally the FA won't take action when the ref is looking at it. But just because he is looking in that direction it doesn't mean he is focused on that act of violence, and he can't have been because he didn't see the kick and didn't give a red card. I doubt that the FA will take action because Mark is looking in that direction and it is not off the ball. But it is a clear red card and Diego Costa is a lucky boy on that occasion."
Both Costa and Skrtel have previously been embroiled in controversy after the Chelsea hitman escaped punishment for a stamp on the Reds centre-back during the Capital One Cup semi-final last season, though he was banned for a similar incident involving Emre Can. The pair were also involved in a physical encounter in Slovakia's European Championship qualifying win over Spain in October 2014.
Manager Jose Mourinho meanwhile awaits the result of two charges for criticising match officials and could be handed a stadium ban for one or more of the aforementioned fixtures, as Chelsea's season threatens to plunge even deeper into crisis. Defeat to Liverpool was the club's sixth in 11 league games and leaves them 15th, four points above the relegation zone.