Diego Costa has been one of the main talking points this season after the 25-year-old has managed to light the Premier League on fire with seven goals from the opening five matches. Ahead of the trip to the Etihad stadium to play Manchester City, it was widely seen as Costa’s biggest test in Chelsea colours. Costa has already scored some important goals this campaign, but some of them have come against teams like Burnley who are expected to be in the running for relegation this season.
Against City, Costa came up against one of the world’s best in the form of Vincent Kompany. Premier League’s latest big-name signing, Eliaquim Mangala made his first start since his £35 million move in the summer. Mangala completely justified his transfer fee with a mammoth performance, but did Costa do well against these two giants? In a word, yes.
City did become the first team to stop Costa scoring in the league, but that record could have been very different had it not been for the width of the post. After playing an intense physical battle for much of the match, Pablo Zabaleta’s sending off freed up some space for Costa and his left foot shot hit the post and bounced back. Let’s take a look at some of the numbers that show just how good Costa is. For the purpose of comparison, the matches against City in the last three years may provide a good barometer.
Aug 2014 – Manchester City 1-1 Chelsea
Costa statistics: shots (2), shots on target (1), pass accuracy (81%), touches (49)
Feb 2014 – Manchester City 0-1 Chelsea
Samuel Eto’o statistics: shots (2), shots on target (1), pass accuracy (69%), touches (23)
Feb 2013 – Manchester City 2-0 Chelsea
Demba Ba statistics: shots (1), shots on target (0), pass accuracy (80%), touches (33)
Mar 2012 – Manchester City 2-1 Chelsea
Fernando Torres statistics: shots (0), shots on target (0), pass accuracy (70%), touches (43)
The position of the striker has been source to intense problems for Chelsea in the last few years, but these stats show that Costa easily ranks as the best striker Chelsea have had in a while.
A striker with more touches on the ball shows more than just the quality of the service. It shows that a player is prepared to make himself available and receive the ball. Costa’s impressive pass accuracy means that he is able to bring his teammates into the play whilst holding off the opposition defenders. One need not be too worried about his lack of shots, as it was largely a game where defences were on top.
If Costa can perform this well (remember, he could have very well scored) against two top defenders away from home, we certainly have a proper striker on our hands.