Love him or loathe him, you just can’t ignore Chelsea’s Brazilian striker Diego Costa. On the one hand, he’s a snarling pit bull of a Dr. Hyde player, infuriating with his spitting, stamping, diving and cynical studs-up hacking. Then on the other, he can conjure up a moment of special skill and a sublime finish.
This is ultimately why he’s tolerated by cool, sharply-tailored Italian boss Antonio Conte at the Bridge.
The former Atletico Madrid striker Costa displayed both sides of his game again in the Blues’ weekend win at Watford. He first attempted to win a penalty with a contemptuous dive just moments after he’d been booked for having a go at the referee, following Etienne Capoue’s smashed opener for the hosts.
Then, with just three minutes to go, he was released by Cesc Fabregas and powered almost half the length of the pitch before firing the winner in low past Gomes’ feet.
It was his second goal of the season and his 34th in just 56 appearances for the London club.
But you get the feeling that Costa carries a hair-trigger temper and could be easily wound up by the soccer dark arts of sly unseen digs and whispered curses in the ear at a corner. If anyone is going to do an Eric Cantona and leap feet first into the crowd at someone hurling him abuse, you’d put money on it being the former Atletico Madrid striker.
Provocative, passionate, dirty and dangerous, you can bet he would punch me in the face right now if he’s reading this. At the very least, he’d kick the screen.
And that’s his Achilles heel; defenders in the Premier League will be itching for a chance to get him so wound up that he sees red – as Costa’s strength is also his weakness, at once both Beauty and the Beast.