The Great Diego Costa ques­tion

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

LON­DON — Diego Costa has turned into a pale im­i­ta­tion of the player who took the Premier League by storm last year and Chelsea must get him fir­ing on all cylin­ders again to have any hope of sal­vaging their wretched sea­son.

The 27-year-old striker could scarcely have be­lieved his luck when he dis­cov­ered last week that he had been re­called to Spain’s squad for the friendlies with Eng­land in Ali­cante on Fri­day and Bel­gium in Brus­sels four days later.

He has scored only three times in 15 ap­pear­ances for his club this sea­son and the swash­buck­ling, bat­ter­ing ram of a cen­tre for­ward who notched 20 league goals for the cham­pi­ons last term ap­pears but a dis­tant mem­ory.

Chelsea fans, al­ready mys­ti­fied by their team’s dra­matic loss of form, are now won­der­ing what has hap­pened to Diego Costa.

Al­though the Lon­don­ers slumped to their third straight league de­feat at Stoke City on Satur­day, they pro­duced a much-im­proved per­for­mance that sug­gested some key play­ers are be­gin­ning to find form af­ter a tor­rid start to the cam­paign.

Eden Haz­ard, the 2014-15 Premier League Player of the Year, again showed the tricky, ballplay­ing skills that tor­mented de­fences last sea­son but more of­ten than not, Chelsea’s at­tacks pe­tered out when the ball went to Costa. For­mer New­cas­tle United tar­get man Alan Shearer, a lethal int e r na­tional striker for Eng­land in his prime, said the tem­per­a­men­tal Costa could learn a lot from Le­ices­ter City’s red-hot marks­man Jamie Vardy.

Vardy has net­ted in each of his last nine league ap­pear­ances and will equal the 2003 record of for­mer Manch­ester United and Nether­lands striker Ruud van Nis­tel­rooy if he scores in Le­ices­ter’s next game at New­cas­tle on Novem­ber 21.

“Right now, one (Vardy) looks full of en­ergy while the other (Costa) is barely mo­bile,” said Shearer.

“I stud­ied Chelsea’s per­for­mance on Satur­day and ac­tu­ally thought they played as well as they have done for some time. What frus­trated me about Costa was the lack of trou­ble he gave Stoke’s back four.”

Shearer, who scored 30 goals in 63 matches for Eng­land, be­moaned Costa’s lack of move­ment.

“Costa is con­stantly com­ing to­wards the ball now whereas you look at Vardy and he is al­ways look­ing to run in be­hind the back four,” he said.

“If you have Costa’s abil­ity there is only one place you should be, up front, fac­ing de­fend­ers and run­ning on to through balls.”

Costa looks to be spend­ing more time wind­ing up op­po­si­tion de­fend­ers than get­ting into the penalty box and if his bar­ren run in front of goal con­tin­ues, Chelsea may have lit­tle op­tion but to seek a re­place­ment in the Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow.

Jose Mour­inho has re­ceived con­stant crit­i­cism for a re­mark­able slump in form that has seen Chelsea slump to fifth from bot­tom with 11 points from 12 league matches.

For some­one who has shown lit­tle pa­tience with man­agers in the past, owner Ro­man Abramovich ap­pears keen to give Stam­ford Bridge hero Mour­inho ev­ery chance to pull his team round.

The Por­tuguese will now be keep­ing his fin­gers crossed that Costa can get back on the goal trail with Spain over the next few days. — Reuters

Chelsea striker Diego Costa.

le­ices­ter City’s Jamie Vardy (left) bat­tles with as­ton Villa’s Joleon lescott.

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