Diego Costa is fine just the way he is. It’s time to get off the back of one of the Premier League’s best strikers. The Spaniard’s rough and tough style might not be for everyone, but he’s certainly not a cheat. In fact, I’d argue that his style is one that has the potential to reignite Chelsea. He did it last season, and it seems that his style seems to be spurring on Chelsea again, just when they need it most.
Costa is not a player that will endear himself to opposing sides. He’s not one that will be respected across the world. And he definitely won’t be winning any sportsmanship awards anytime soon.
However, his style of play makes him one of the most effective players on the continent. He has the ability to change the game, one way or another.
Take the last two games for instance. Against Maccabi Tel-Aviv, the Spaniard’s quality was evident. He had a volley that struck the upper corner, following a long pass from Fabregas. The striker wasn’t even facing the net. That’s a sign of his true skill and ability as a striker.
The match against Arsenal was a different match entirely.
Against the North Londoners, Costa took on the role of the bully. And it worked just as effectively. Sure some of his acts lie in a moral gray area. He will pick up the occasional ban now and again. Yet his style works. He knows how to get under the skin of every center back he plays against. He winds them up and then leaves them to react or retaliate. He throws them off their game and that type of weapon is irreplaceable.
Costa embodies a Mourinho player inside and out. If the Portuguese manager could step on the pitch, he’d look something like Costa. The Spaniard plays with a drive and passion to win not replicated by any player on the pitch. That’s what makes him so special. He wants to win at any cost. It’s the character of a true warrior that make Costa so effective. He will do whatever it takes, whether it’s scoring goals or pushing defenders around.
There is a line that comes with playing this way. And there is no doubt that Costa flirts with this line. Yet he’s someone who often gets caught up in too much controversy, not by his own accord. He’s not the type to back down from a challenge, and I believe the media and opposing sides take this too seriously.
What happened against Arsenal was blown out of proportion. Was he too aggressive with Koscielny? Perhaps. Did it deserve a yellow card. Yes.
After that, he allowed for Arsenal players, mainly Gabriel to overreact and get themselves in trouble. Koscielny was smart enough to back off. The youngster Gabriel was not. It’s as simple as that. Costa won the mental advantage and the Arsenal defender was stupid enough to flick his boot at Costa with Mike Dean less than a yard away. It’s poor practice to then turn this on Costa.
I doubt that the complaints would be as persistent, had Gabriel not overreacted and got himself red carded. The rules of the game are set up to protect against retaliation. It’s always been that way. The players that are in the business of winding players up are never punished as badly. And Gabriel was a victim of this on Saturday.
This doesn’t mean that league retrospectively punishes Costa which they seem set to do. He should have a received a yellow card that didn’t come. Anything past that is too harsh. What Costa does, while towing that line, is fair enough.
He’s persistent, he’s rough, and he impacts every game. He’s one of Mourinho’s warriors. It’s why he plays most of the matches during the season and why Chelsea suffer without him. His aggression embodies the working hard mentality that Mourinho requires from his players. It’s ruthless and at times a bit barbaric. Yet, it’s effective and a necessity. It’s exactly what the Premier League needs and what Chelsea need leading their attack.
Chelsea will try to claw their way back into the title race. And they will do so with performances like Costa’s on Saturday. The Blues will need skill and talent, but that warrior mentality will need to be present for the West Londoners to make real headway. Costa and Chelsea can bully their way back to the top. And with a player like Costa leading their line, Mourinho will like his chances.