Uefa set to dish out two-game Essien ban

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The Independent Online

Uefa's disciplinary committee is expected to impose no more than a two-match ban on Chelsea's Michael Essien today for his dangerous lunge at Liverpool's Dietmar Hamann in their Champions' League group game last week.

The midfielder has been charged with gross unsporting conduct and his case is to be heard by Uefa's control and disciplinary panel in Nyon, Switzerland, today.

Essien, 23, has since apologised to Hamann for the tackle, which caught the German midfielder just below the knee but was missed by the referee, Herbert Fandel.

In their written submission to Uefa, European football's governing body, Chelsea are expected to say that the challenge was accidental and that there was no malicious intent involved. Such was the dangerous nature of the tackle, though, that the Ghana midfielder can expect a short suspension that will rule him out of at least one of the Chelsea's games in the first knock-out phase of the Champions' League.

There is no likelihood of Uefa taking similar action to the five-game ban handed out to Rangers' Alex Rae, who was also charged with gross unsporting conduct last year for kicking a CSKA Moscow opponent in the head as he lay on the ground. Uefa viewed that action as violent behaviour rather than simply a dangerous over-the-top challenge as is the case with the Chelsea midfield player.

The former Chelsea centre-back Marcel Desailly seems convinced that Jose Mourinho's side will have wrapped up the title should they beat their London rivals Arsenal at Highbury on Sunday. Desailly believes that one more defeat for Arsène Wenger's side will effectively rule them out of the title race and leave Chelsea set to win the Premiership crown for the second successive season.

"I'm a supporter now and I tell you if Chelsea win that one, it's finished," said Desailly. "There is not really a lot of pressure. You cannot say they are enemies - but they are two teams who like to play against each other so it is going to be a great game.

"But Chelsea will win for sure because they have a psychological advantage in front of Arsenal. That's why Chelsea will make the difference."

The Germany coach, Jürgen Klinsmann, has urged the centre-back Robert Huth to stay at Stamford Bridge and fight for a place in Jose Mourinho's side rather than go out on loan in an attempt to secure his place in the squad for the World Cup finals.

Huth has failed to figure in Mourinho's plans this season and there is growing speculation that the giant defender will be allowed to go out on loan until the end of the season when the transfer window opens next month.

A number of English clubs could be interested in Huth, but, in Germany, Bayern Munich and Borussia Mönchengladbach are already being linked with a player who is desperate to earn a place in Klinsmann's squad for the World Cup finals next summer. But the Germany coach does not believe that a loan move would be a good idea for Huth, believing he will learn more from the host of world-class defenders at Chelsea.

"We believe he can learn a lot from John Terry, Ricardo Carvalho and William Gallas because they are all experienced defenders," said Klinsmann.

"We have to hope he will get his games, especially with the FA Cup starting and Chelsea still in the Champions' League."

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