Chelsea’s purchase of the Spaniard from Spanish side, Atletico Madrid, during this past summer transfer window is fast proving to be amongst the best football deals in European football history.
His Seven goals in the English Premier League has catapulted him into the record books, for the most goals scored by a player in his first four matches in England’s top-flight league. To put matters into further context, Fernando Torres, who has been loaned out to Italian giants- AC Milan- took 3 months before he registered his first Premier League goal for the South-west London side.
So, what makes Diego Costa special? For one, at a towering 6ft 2in, he possesses the rare combination of height, power and speed. Last season, he scored 36 goals in 52 appearances for Atletico Madrid. That feat, whilst squaring up against the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, and Lionel Messi of Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively, is certainly one to applaud.
Already, his physicality within the opponents’ 18 yard box has already proven to be a hit for Chelsea FC this season. His style could be compared to Didier Drogba, but the former is a bit more skilful than the powerful Ivorian.
Furthermore, the addition of Cesc Fabregas to the Blues is simply a case of fixing the nut with the bolt. Fabregas has been a big part of Costa’s success so far, chipping in with assists in the EPL games against Burnley and Everton. Fabregas already has SIX Premier League assists to his name.
Also, another factor that could aid Diego Costa’s quest to be the Premier League’s top scorer is the open attacking approach which Manager, Jose Mourinho, seems to favour this season. Unlike last season, when four or five players did most of the attacking plays in matches, and three players in the ‘big’ games (vs Liverpool in the league, Atletico in the Champions League); there is an emphasis on attacking as a team this season.
Both midfield pivots- Nemanja Matic and Fabregas – have been given license to roam forward whenever the opportunity arises. Full-backs Branislav Ivanovic and Cesar Azpilicueta also support the attacking trio of Hazard, Costa, and Oscar.
This bold attacking approach has also left Chelsea vulnerable at the back, which is definitely uncharacteristic of Mourinho-coached teams. So far, Chelsea has shipped seven goals in five league games, including 3 conceded to Everton FC. If the trend of conceding in every match continues, the gaffer may decide to tighten up the defensive shape of the team in the big games.
For instance, Fabregas could play in the ‘hole’ behind Oscar, while Matic and Mikel could be the midfield pivot. Mikel, who rarely ventures into the opponents’ half, let alone near the penalty box, could be relied upon to protect the back-four, while Matic supports the four attacking players in front of him.
Whether Mourinho switches to a more defensive tactic, or continues with the present open attacking philosophy, it may prove to have little or no effect on the high-flying Costa. After all, the Spaniard scored over thirty goals in an Atletico Madrid side which could not be described as a gung-ho side.
Last season’s Atletico team played in a rigid 4-4-2 formation for most of that season. That team played without true wingers, but four central midfielders. Ultimately, if the Fabregas/Costa duo remains healthy for a good majority of the season, its plausible to expect Costa to rack up, at least, 25-30 league goals by the end of the season.