What Costa, Chelsea Success?
With one eye over his shoulder, a little chest down of the ball, and a sublime flick over the keeper, Diego Costa capped probably his worst Chelsea performance with his best moment so far.
October 6th, 2014
It says it all about the man that former Blue Jason Cundy refers affectionately to as ‘The Goal Pig’ that he can pull something like that out of his locker on a day where things just didn’t seem to be going his way.
For the other 89 minutes of the game against Arsenal, Costa had looked off the pace, out of the running – and every bit as half-fit as Jose Mourinho has been telling us all season that he is.
And there is the crux of what makes this player so remarkable – and why Mourinho was chasing him for a good year before he signed the Spaniard for Chelsea.
Costa never gives up.
He has now scored nine Premier League goals – all of which came while carrying a hamstring injury that means he cannot even train.
So the week for Costa goes something like this: play and score; sit on an ice pack watching the rest of the team train; play and score again.
It is frankly quite frightening how good this guy might get when he’s actually fit.
John Terry recently summed Costa up by comparing the never-say-die attitude he has shown to that for which the ‘Captain, Leader, Legend’ is himself so well known.
Filipe Luis, who probably knows him better than anyone in the Chelsea set-up, insisted he would be a candidate for this year’s Ballon d’Or.
At the moment literally nothing – including an unlawful charge from Mauricio do Santos Nascimento, as the Sporting defender found to his own misfortune – can stop Costa.
But something will, and that is a problem Chelsea will surely soon have to face up to.
With a player so clearly on the brink of fitness, mishaps come easily.
So far, understudies Didier Drogba and Loic Remy remain comparatively untried at the sharp end of the Chelsea attack.
The glimpses we have seen of both indicates one is a long way off his Champions League-winning form, while the other is a completely different, and altogether more subtle attacking force.
While Chelsea look unbeatable with their new goalscoring machine, take that away and they start to look a lot more like the stuttering side which came third last season.
Both Drogba and Remy need minutes. But Chelsea cannot afford to give them these, as Mourinho is perennially chasing the next three points.
A few years ago they might have been given a run out in the reserves – for goals, form and confidence – but that isn’t now really an option, following the restructuring of development football to focus upon youth.
Mourinho presumably knows all this lies ahead, which is why he is making hay while the sun shines.
If he can get Chelsea so far ahead of the pack, then when the blip comes, perhaps they still won’t be able to catch his side.
But with tiny advantages making up the difference between winners and losers in Europe’s most competitive big league, Costa’s fitness already looks likely to be the crucial deciding factor in Chelsea’s season.