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Obi Mikel Escapes Punishment For Neville Lunge

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Chelsea relief at John-Obi Mikel let-off

By Jeremy Wilson

Last Updated: 2:12am GMT 10/01/2008


John-Obi Mikel has escaped missing any additional Chelsea matches, despite picking up a four-game ban for his fourth red card since arriving at Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2006.


Although Mikel will be on duty with Nigeria in the African Cup of Nations for much of the next month, the Football Association yesterday confirmed that his suspension for the tackle on Everton's Phil Neville during Tuesday's Carling Cup tie will begin immediately and so only include matches he was already due to have missed.


advertisementChelsea have studied replays of the offending challenge on Neville and, while there is a feeling that the straight red card was harsh, they are unlikely to appeal given that the suspension will have no actual impact on them.


Mikel's challenge was late and though he only went in with one foot raised, his studs were certainly showing, adding to the feeling that referees will continue to crack down firmly on this type of tackle.


Neville, who jumped to avoid full contact, said: "The rules state that if you go in with your studs showing you should be sent off, but it was a fantastic game of football and there are going to be challenges and tackles.


"Referees have a hard job because they have to abide by the rules, but maybe there could be a bit of common sense. There was no malice, just two teams trying to get to Wembley.


"I thought he went for the ball - though my ankle was hanging off! He went with his studs up, but foreign players tend to tackle like that. I don't think they do it in a malicious way, but you can't do it nowadays.


"That's the tackle we want out of our game. There were a couple more like that, which you don't want in the game any more. It's things like that which should be punished."


Chelsea goalkeeper Hilario felt that Mikel had no reason to apologise to his team-mates. "He did not have to say anything to us," he said. "He didn't do anything wrong. He challenged to get the ball and did not go to hurt the player, just to play the ball."


Stand-in captain Michael Ballack said that Chelsea's ability to take a 2-1 lead into the second leg with a later ?winner, despite the dismissal of Mikel, will provide a significant confidence boost.


"It was a big, important goal for us and for the feeling and morale within the team," Ballack said. "We showed a lot of fight, big fight. The most important thing is that we have stayed together and united and strong in such a difficult period, when we have had so many players missing."


Mikel has now joined Salomon Kalou, Didier Drogba and Michael Essien in departing for the African Cup of Nations, leaving Claudio Pizarro as Chelsea's only fit senior striker. manager Avram Grant has been unable to give any definitive timescale on Andrei Shevchenko's latest injury, saying only that "strange things had happened this year" with the Ukrainian's injury.


It all increases the importance of reaching a swift agreement with Bolton on the transfer of Nicolas Anelka. Talks are ongoing and though Chelsea are keen to push a deal through before Saturday's match against Tottenham, Bolton manager Gary Megson still hopes to keep the Frenchman.


Farcical. the suspension should begin when he returns from Ghana.

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what would you say if it had been yakubu or Yobo?


He shouldn't have been sent off anyway and most people, even a lot of Everton fans would agree with that.


I thought it looked bad at first but after a few viewings it's not that bad despite catching him, he hasn't gone in 2 footed and prior to this season he definately wouldn't have been sent off.


I can understand from the ref's view and the speed at which it happend as well as the way his foot caught neville it looked very bad but it's not a non contact sport and rules are getting too hard and playing into the hands of the play actors, especially people like ronaldo who it is very difficult to get a tackle against because of his speed and trickery yet one false move and one fall to the floor and your off.


and so far as the actual suspension goes, that's the same as when a players injured, it never makes any difference weather they are able to play the games or not the suspension is ALWAYS for a set period.

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Pat    2

Doesnt help with the Club V Country Row.


Maybe Next Time NIGERIA wont let players have sepcial dispention.

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