This time last year, Chelsea star Diego Costa was finally proving a welcome tonic to the club’s many striking woes over the years. However, this time around, the former Atletico man looks to be suffering the same ills as previous incumbents of the Stamford striking slot.
One goal in four appearances so far this term pales in comparison to his excellent maiden campaign. This, partly, could be attributed to the Blues’ stuttering start to their title defence – but the La Roja hitman simply hasn’t looked himself. The bamboozling brute has looked nowhere near as brash during the opening weeks of the season.
Menacing and magnificent in equal measure, it finally looked like Roman Abramovich’s millions had finally been put to good use when buying a goal scorer.
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A long-term hamstring issue has arguably impacted his all-out physical approach. In the stunning 6-3 victory over Everton last year, Costa showed fans from the isles what he is all about. Skilful, scheming and strong – the Spaniard looked like Jose Mourinho personified.
The injuries began to mount towards the back end of last year, forcing him to miss six weeks of action. Mourinho himself also revealed ‘we don’t know if he plays or doesn’t play.’ The Portuguese believes his star striker’s injury to be a ‘real concern’.
Granted, the service has not been up to par so far. Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard have not provided chances in abundance in the same manner as last season, and the West London outfit have looked disjointed as a whole.
But for both club and country, scrutiny has begun to mount on the 26-year old’s shoulders. After making the controversial switch in allegiance from his native Brazil to play for Spain, the star has looked lost on the international stage.
One goal in eight appearances for the former World champions has barely endeared himself to the fans. When he pulled out of Spain’s ties with Belarus and Germany in November 2014 citing injury issues, even international colleague Sergio Ramos reportedly questioned his commitment to the cause.
Despite winning a crucial penalty in the vital clash with Slovenia, a single strike against Luxembourg in a Euro 2016 qualifier is all he has to show since his switch from the Selecao. That, and a disastrous World Cup 2014.
Is Costa becoming too predictable? Defences across the league may now know how to deal with Diego. His ferocious style of play flattened back-lines last year, but standing up to a bully can swiftly get rid of them.
Perhaps the same (at times) schoolyard tactics deployed by the man that proved so successful last year are being used against him. He is teetering between the dominant winner we saw in 2014-15 and a loose cannon.
Spanish newspaper AS provided a damming assessment of the hitman, ‘the more effort Diego Costa makes, the more he loses himself and his dark side starts to emerge.’ When both his club and country are struggling to exert their previously seen dominance, the famous temper flares.
Chelsea’s dismal start to the season cannot solely be attributed to the stuttering Spaniard. However, his mounting injury problems and lack of form are growing concerns at Stamford, and the £32.5m man could fall victim to the famed Blues striker curse.