Despite attempts by the Chelsea hierarchy to diffuse the situation, by preventing Jose Mourinho from pouring further fuel on the debate in his weekly press conference, Diego Costa has been banned for three matches after an alleged stamping incident during their midweek match with Liverpool. Tempers flared during the Capital One Cup semi-final match on Tuesday at Stamford Bridge, after it was alleged that Costa had stamped on Reds' defender Emre Can's ankle in the 12th minute, while the German was lying prone on the touchline.

As Costa ran back on to the pitch after the ball, he looked away from the defender but his foot came down firmly on Can's unprotected ankle, causing his rival to writhe in agony afterwards.

Slow motion replays made the action seem more pre-meditated that they seemed at the time and Costa has denied that it was deliberate on his part. Mourinho has also defended his player and stated that in his belief the incident was "absolutely accidental".

The consequences for a squad already missing some key players and now set to face title rivals Manchester City in the weekend's showpiece game, could be a loss of momentum, just as they had established a five point lead at the top. The three-match penalty also means that the Spanish striker will miss further league games against Aston Villa and Everton. Chelsea are also sweating on the fitness of their match winner on Tuesday, Branislav Ivanovic, who sustained a foot injury against the Merseyside club and midfield playmaker Cesc Fabregas (who came off injured during the same match).

Costa was also involved in another incident involving Martin Skrtel during the second-leg, replays suggesting that it may have also involved stamping, but he has not been charged for that by the Football Association.

For Liverpool of course, the penalty will have no benefit as there is no retrospective impact on the result of the game.

It is a timely reminder of the apparent oddity with such rulings, in that the 'winners' (if anybody does indeed 'win' after such decisions) are most likely to be the teams that next face the club penalised, rather than the team in opposition when the incident occurred.

Costa was likened to a pitbull terrier during his time with previous club, Atletico Madrid, becoming a fans' favourite as he chased down every (seemingly) lost ball and crunched into tackles when necessary. With that came a number of disciplinary troubles, including a head butt during a Europa League game for which he also received a three-match ban at the time. He also received thirteen yellow cards a few seasons ago during Atletico's campaign, as he struggled to keep his behaviour within accepted boundaries. At one stage, Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers was interested in taking him to Liverpool, drawing comparisons (in terms of effort and behaviour-wise) with their then striker Luis Suarez, but it was Chelsea who committed firmly to his signing last summer. Originally born in Brazil, he has since committed his international future to Spain.