Didier Drogba is urging fans to lay off Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien.
Blues midfielder Essien is already saddled with a bad-boy reputation for ruthless tackling less than six months after joining the Premiership.
Liverpool midfielder Didi Hamann is still struggling with a knee injury after Essien left his calling card during the Champions League clash on December 6.
But Drogba said: "Michael has been given a hard time but is not a naughty guy. He is trying to give his best for Chelsea.
"What happened is because he wants to win - not to hurt people. That's why he apologised to Hamann."
Essien, 23, will serve a two-game Champions League ban for his studs-up challenge on Hamann.
And team-mates fear he will become victim of a campaign to get him into trouble because of his reputation.
His hair-trigger temper will be tested even more today in the tense derby atmosphere against Fulham.
Drogba said: "I don't have to give him advice, he knows what he can and can't do here.
"My first season was difficult. It is not easy. Some people take two or four years - some stay for one year and go."