Few teams seem to remain so consistently under the spotlight as Chelsea. Be it their form, their manager or their off the pitch antics, it seems impossible to ignore them.
The latest in Chelsea’s outlier of a season is the questionable behaviour of their anti- hero, Diego Costa during the Arsenal vs Chelsea clash last Saturday. Chelsea’s 2-0 victory barely tells the story of a heated and controversial 90 minutes between the two clubs.
Costa’s unprovoked altercation with Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny was followed by a tussle with Gabriel which saw both players booked before Gabriel lashed out and kicked him, earning himself seeing a second yellow card.
The incident caused much post-match debate. Questions were raised over Costa’s behaviour and Mike Dean’s decision making, as well as over Gabriel’s naivety in reacting to Costa’s obvious attempts to frustrate him.
Consequently the Football Association (FA) decided to revoke Gabriel’s double yellow, instead giving him a one match ban for his reaction to being sent off. Costa, however, received a three-match ban for violent conduct.
It seems hard to argue against the ban. You can’t assault a player and get away with it. It raises the question, why does Costa behave in this way?
Of course, Costa is not the only striker in the world who attempts to antagonise defenders and get them booked. It effectively limits their game, and a centre-back on a yellow is a far less formidable opponent. Gabriel should not have reacted in such an aggressive manner, he should’ve known better and Costa got exactly what he wanted when Gabriel was sent off.
Of course Gabriel’s sending off ruined the game, but for Chelsea it ensured three crucial points. So whilst some of us might not like it, there is an argument to be made that Costa is doing everything he can for his team except, of course, scoring goals.
However -and it is a big however- it has led to Chelsea having to play three games without their first team striker. Could it be said that Costa is a liability to the team’s success?
Comparatively, last season Costa scored eight goals in his opening six games with nearly a 50% conversion rate. This season he has netted just once, with a conversion rate of only 12%.
He is undeniably an incredibly talented player who is capable of dominating and commanding the pitch. Unfortunately, without his superlative striking skills in evidence, this seasonhe is making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Perhaps his behaviour is stemming from frustration, a reflection of the mood at Stamford Bridge. Similarly to Mourinho’s behaviour this season, when Chelsea are doing well it seems entertaining. When they are not it begins to seem desperate, and desperation is not a Mourinho hallmark.
Three points and a three match ban. Perhaps if Costa starts performing at his best, his behaviour will lessen but for now one has to wonder, is it worth it?