- Associated Press - Friday, January 30, 2015

LONDON (AP) - Chelsea striker Diego Costa will miss Saturday’s crucial English Premier League game against title rival Manchester City after being handed a three-match ban for stamping on an opponent’s leg.

The Spain international contested the English Football Association’s decision to charge him with violent conduct for treading on the right ankle of Liverpool’s Emre Can during the second leg of the League Cup semifinal on Tuesday.

The FA’s independent commission upheld the charge on Friday and Costa, the Premier League’s top scorer, will be suspended for Chelsea’s next three league games - starting with the visit of second-place City to Stamford Bridge. Chelsea will pull eight points clear of City with a win.

Costa will also miss an away game at Aston Villa and a home match against Everton. His next game is likely to be the Champions League last-16 first leg against Paris Saint-Germain on Feb. 17.

The incident involving Costa and Can wasn’t seen by match officials but was caught on video. A charge followed as part of the FA’s fast-tracked procedures.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said Costa’s movement toward Can was “absolutely accidental,” saying his player “puts his foot there when he’s looking to the ball.”

Mourinho, who was fined this week for saying there was a “campaign” against his side, canceled his regular pre-match media conference on Friday.

The absence of Costa, who has 17 league goals in his debut year at Stamford Bridge, is a huge loss for Chelsea, with the striker adding a cutting edge that was lacking in the team last season.

However, his physical and often confrontational approach has got him in trouble this season, earning him 10 yellow cards - two for Spain and eight for Chelsea.

“He is a great player, a very important player. He is not an easy character,” City manager Manuel Pellegrini said. “But I hope, for him, this punishment … will be good for him to change a little bit in the future.

“He doesn’t need to do it that way because he is very good player, a top player.”

Mourinho will likely start veteran striker Didier Drogba up front against City. Loic Remy is another option as the lone striker.


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