Discussing Diego Costa’s near perfect Chelsea performance 0

Is there anyone left out there who doesn’t yet understand why Chelsea spent so much money on Diego Costa?

If so, maybe re-watch his performance against Everton.

The Spaniard will draw a lot of acclaim for his goal-scoring but, while he was clinical, his contribution was so admirable this evening because it was so varied.

When Costa signed, I remember writing that he was the perfect Jose Mourinho centre-forward and that the combination of his technique and blue-collared, rugged style of play would make him the ideal focal point for this side.  Mourinho’s teams typically possesses a lot of attacking flair, but they’re also underpinned by a defensive resilience that starts at the very top of the formation.  Contemporary Chelsea carry no passengers and every player, irrespective of position, is expected to contribute in both directions.

Diego Costa: Distribution vs Everton

Diego Costa: Distribution vs Everton

Costa recycled the ball very well this evening and, although his distribution wasn’t always that accurate, he was creative with how he used the ball and there were moments when he showed a level of vision with which he’s not usually associated.  Look, for example, at his involvement in the build-up to Branislav Ivanovic’s goal: a lovely bit of control, patience, and then a square-ball that gave Ramires the chance to put the Serbian in alone on Tim Howard’s goal.

If there’s any lingering discontent at Romelu Lukaku’s departure, then that was the moment at which it should have dissipated completely.  There are a handful of forwards who have both the presence of mind and the composure to make that pass - and whilst Costa is amongst that number, Lukaku is not.

Diego Costa: Touches vs Everton

In order to preserve the fluency of Chelsea’s play, it’s vital that their forward is not only astute in the final-third, but is also able to contribute to the play in general.  Again, Costa does that very well.  He doesn’t just loiter in the traditional attacking areas, he actually joins in with the general play and makes a contribution deeper in the pitch.  That’s very important - but not because Mourinho requires his forwards to do anything particularly clever in and around the halfway line, but because that’s a key part of a team transitioning from defence into attack.  The better a number nine is at receiving and retaining the ball in deeper areas, the more opportunity he provides for his teammates to ‘catch up’ with the play and become involved in it themselves.  It’s the difference between a side having a proper exit strategy and simply kicking it as far away from their goal as they possibly can.

And he wasn’t just a bystander when the ball was around Chelsea’s penalty-box, either, there were several occasions when he actually won tackles close to his own goal-line and became an active defender.

Very, very impressive.  Chelsea had their issues when Everton started chasing the game, but the front-half of their side worked perfectly - and Costa was an integral part of that.

All graphics courtesy of Squawka.

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