If the ever controversial striker wasn’t already up there, Diego Costa’s ill-timed stamp on Emre Can during last week’s League Cup Semi-Final with Liverpool, and subsequent three-match retrospective ban, has put Chelsea’s star man right to the forefront of Premier League debate.
It is an incident that has seemingly split the footballing community, leaving some loyally faithful to the Brazilian born hitman, but others in complete disgust with the no. 19’s off-ball behaviour. Costa himself has been quick to shine himself in a more innocent light however, claiming that although he is “no angel”, he can “go to sleep knowing that [he’s] done nothing wrong”, as the stamp was apparently “not on purpose”.
While such words will do little to swing the jury in either direction, should Diego Costa be given more lenient treatment for his behaviour this season, or does the Spanish striker deserve all the flack he gets for being the Premier League’s biggest cheat?
As a player, the former Atletico Madrid man simply has everything going for him. He may not be blessed with the most rapid pace, but his reading of the game, hold-up play, and off-ball movement are simply second to none. Costa gives the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard the perfect target man to work off, and as the burly striker has already scored 17 goals for the Blues this season, it seems for footballing reasons alone, the Spanish striker really is a good asset to have on your side.
However, because of Diego Costa’s lack of etiquette on the field, the 26-year-old really should have no place in English football and the Premier League. Yes – he is a top player and in truly great form right now, but the spectators of this country deserve to see better than this, for want of a less destructive word, cheat. Whether you are a Costa fan or not, what he does is not traditional, it’s not ‘old-school’, it’s just wrong.
Despite his innocent reflection on last Tuesday’s events, Chelsea’s star-man is lucky to be receiving as little as a three match ban for his tiresome behaviour across this campaign. Diego Costa is a blatant diver, a sly off-ball fouler, and a time-waster who carries with him an ‘opponent frustrating’ tag that makes up a significant part of his game. If the former La Liga man were forced to play with some etiquette and a bit of dignity, he would obviously be far less effective, and far less entertaining for some.
Last week’s League Cup clash with Liverpool was hardly the first time the Spanish forward has flirted with controversy this season, as trying to con the referee into giving his team an advantage has been a distinct hallmark of his game, even before he made the switch to Stamford Bridge in the summer. Watching La Liga matches with Diego Costa involved were often a frustrating affair. While he wasn’t the only offender, the controversial striker made sure games had little to no flow, tried his best to get numerous players sent off, and often ruined games by diving, and somehow winning, penalties for his side.
Yes – Chelsea are certainly benefitting from Diego Costa’s style right now and good luck to them, but can real football fans truly hold their hand on their heart and say that Mourinho’s main man deserves such praise in today’s game? The Premier League is being defined as no more than a soap-opera style scandal with faces such as Costa’s involved, and while his character definitely adds a certain interest in the sport, true fans really should have no time for this man, whose primary motive is to wind-up the opposition.
As a non-Chelsea supporter however, perhaps it is easy to take this tone with Diego Costa, who remains a clear thorn in the side of any Premier League opposition looking to test the Blues, and a good one at that.
But as we arrive as sports fans first and foremost, watching an entertaining game of football should likely be the upmost concern. With the likes of Diego Costa cropping up in weekend proceedings however, doing so without all the external nonsense is increasingly becoming a task much easier said than done.