Mikel and Mata ‘to be taken out of firing line’

Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo is tipped to rest Juan Mata and John Obi Mikel for tonight’s cup game against Manchester United.

The Daily Mirror and The Sun both suggest Di Matteo is keen to keep the pair out of the firing line following Sunday’s controversial league match between the two sides, during which referee Mark Clattenburg is alleged to have directed racial insults towards them.

The Daily Mail say Chelsea’s case against Clattenburg is in danger of collapsing, with the club apparently fearful of the backlash if their players have misheard or misjudged the official, who denies any wrongdoing.

It is suggested that Mikel’s aggressive manner, and the behaviour of other Chelsea officials, raises the possibility of FA action against the club.

The Daily Telegraph report that security will be stepped up for tonight’s game given that tensions have been running high in the wake of the weekend encounter.

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Meanwhile, former Chelsea defender Ricardo Carvalho has again been linked with a return to west London with QPR.

It was claimed during the previous transfer window that Rangers were interested in signing Carvalho from Real Madrid.

And Metro say R’s boss Mark Hughes plans to offer him an 18-month contract in January.

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