Branislav Ivanovic has decided to appeal against a charge of violent conduct brought against him by the Football Association. The Chelsea defender was charged after an incident with Wigan midfielder Shaun Maloney during Saturday's 2-1 victory over Roberto Martinez's side, and could face a possible three-match ban if found guilty. The case will be heard today by an FA regulatory commission.
The Blues face a defensive crisis which threatens to derail their season should Ivanovic fail in his appeal. They would be without the 28-year-old for three crucial London derbies if he is found guilty of striking Maloney during Saturday's victory – starting with Sunday evening's FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur.
Chelsea's interim manager Roberto Di Matteo already has enough problems in defence with his captain, John Terry, playing through the pain of cracked ribs and left-back Ashley Cole's ankle injury reportedly worse than was first feared.
The FA charged Ivanovic after examining video footage of his clash with Maloney, which took place moments before Juan Mata's controversial winner at Stamford Bridge. Referee Mike Jones confirmed he and his assistants did not witness the incident, giving the FA the green light to investigate it retrospectively.
The video footage, which emerged after Saturday's game, shows Maloney going down bent double after appearing to be struck in the midriff.
As well as the Spurs semi-final, Ivanovic faces missing two league derbies, against Arsenal and Queen's Park Rangers. Martinez said he did not want Ivanovic banned. "As a player, if you do something wrong you should be punished at that moment," the Spaniard said. "I don't see the point of punishing someone retrospectively."
Meanwhile, the former Chelsea midfielder Gianfranco Zola has expressed his interest in becoming manager of the club, but concedes the prospect of it becoming reality is unlikely.
The Blues have improved under the guidance of Di Matteo and have reached the semi-finals of the Champions League. While support for Di Matteo's appointment on a permanent basis is growing, his future at Stamford Bridge remains in doubt. The Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, Laurent Blanc and Didier Deschamps are all names to have been linked with the post.
And yesterday Zola, who spent seven years at Chelsea, joined those names, while acknowledging the job done by Di Matteo. "Chelsea? I'd be a hypocrite if I said that I wouldn't want the job, but I don't think there are the right conditions in place for that," Zola told the Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport. "As a Chelsea fan I always want the team to be in the best possible hands, as they are right now with Roberto Di Matteo."
Zola left Stamford Bridge in 2003 and later spent two years at West Ham United in his first – and only – club managerial post before leaving in 2010.