Diego Costa has made a lightning start to life in the Premier League, following his £32 million switch during the summer transfer window. The Chelsea forward has proven unstoppable since his arrival and already he has seven goals in his first four league games.
Another goal this weekend could see the 25-year-old equal the record of eight – jointly held by Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and former Coventry forward Mick Quinn – for a player’s first five outings in England’s top flight.
Chelsea travel to the Etihad to face Manchester City on Sunday and Costa’s form will prove influential as the two heavyweights clash. The Spaniard has the capability to single handedly secure three points for his new side and a win here would see the current league leaders move eight points clear of the holding champions.
Costa did not start in his side’s 1-1 European draw with Schalke on Wednesday night and Mourinho later revealed that the £32 million signing is not yet fully fit, making him unable to play more than one game a week.
He has experienced ongoing problems with his hamstring dating back to the end of last season. Nonetheless, he came on for the final 20 minutes against the Germans and the Portuguese head coach has confirmed he will start at the Etihad.
City midfielder David Silva has backed his side to stop Costa in his tracks when they play host to the London outfit on Sunday. In doing so, the club would become first in the top flight to successfully shut him out this term.
‘Diego has made a huge impact,’ said the Spaniard. ‘It is not easy to adapt but he has clearly done it very quickly. He’s scored seven times so far so that record speaks for itself. That’s very important for Chelsea but not that good for us. But we’ve got a good defence and I believe we can stop him on Sunday.”
However, against a City back-four who have achieved just two cleans sheets so far this season, few would back against him scoring. His strike rate thus far is truly exquisite and having 63.6% of his attempts, he has quickly established himself as the most clinical forward in the top flight; no mean feat considering the talent available to the majority of sides.
In reality the key to City quashing Costa lies in removing his service from midfield – cut the likes of Hazard and Fabregas out of the game and reduce the odds of Spaniard finding the back of the net. Each of his goals have come from within the 18-year-box – credit to his movement and finishing – but if Pellegrini’s men can win the midfield battle, they will experience far greater success.
Costa will naturally prove a handful for the club’s likely centre-back pairing, Vincent Kompany and Martin Demichelis, given his boisterous manner and natural ability to find space. A player of his ilk requires obsessive defensive attention from start to finish. Allowing the Spaniard even the slightest room to manoeuvre is likely to have deadly consequences.
It will take a tremendous defensive performance this weekend to prevent Costa adding to his current season tally. The Spaniard’s success is likely to prove the deciding factor as the two heavyweights clash.