Costa’s Blues top the charts
Chelsea predator preys on Boro concentration to reach the league summit
LONDON/ Chelsea manager Antonio Conte found himself earlier this season - his first in charge - being asked most weeks about controlling Spain international Diego Costa’s volatile temperament.
Now the forward’s scoring and all-round contribution is a more regular topic of conversation after 10 goals and three assists have helped fired them to the top of the Premier League.
“Diego is playing good football, with the ball and without it,” Conte said after Sunday’s 1-0 away win over a lightweight Middlesbrough.
“He’s a fantastic striker and is showing this.”
The margin was closer than most of ‘Boro’s vain attempts at avoiding defeat against Chelsea over the past 10 years but, as their manager Aitor Karanka ruefully acknowledged, leaving the livewire Costa free for a second can be fatal.
That was what happened shortly before halftime when four defenders looked like figures in a spot-the-ball competition as the league’s top scorer nipped in amongst them and volleyed the decisive goal.
“We knew it was going to be hard but we are in the Premier League and one mistake gets you punished,” Karanka told Sky Sports after the home team’s seventh straight loss to Chelsea in all competitions without scoring a single goal.
“Diego Costa is one of the top scorers in the world. Before the game I said to my players you can’t lose him for one second and they lost him,” said Karanka. Costa was more closely guarded early in the second half but still managed to head down David Luiz’s long cross.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte and Diego Costa celebrate their Premier League win against Middlesbrough at The Riverside Stadium - Nov 20./