( AFP ) - Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel insists he is not a "monster" after his fourth red card in 18 months provoked criticism of the Nigerian's aggressive style.
Mikel was sent off for a rash studs-up lunge on Everton's Phil Neville during Chelsea's League Cup semi-final first leg win on Tuesday.
The 20-year-old has forged a reputation for dangerous play after he was also sent off against Manchester United this season, as well as being dismissed twice last year.
But he is adamant there is no malice in his play.
"If people look at my record at Chelsea with four reds, they would believe I was some sort of monster," Mikel told the Daily Star. "But I am not a killer on the field. I play with force and to win every match but really the amount of reds I have been given is very excessive in my opinion.
"Perhaps the referees do not understand my style. I have seen much tougher tackles in games where players have not been sent off."
Michael Essien was also criticised for his physical style when he arrived at Stamford Bridge and the Ghana star has been telling his Chelsea colleague how to cope with the scrutiny that inevitably follows top players when they get in trouble.
"Essien has given me some advice because he went through this as well," Mikel said. "Things have changed for him now and I hope they do for me."