Diego Costa talks to the official Chelsea website about his role on the pitch, the help he is getting from some of the in-form players around him, and what his hopes are for the rest of the season…
It says much about the team’s extraordinary current form that even without the suspended Diego Costa and N’Golo Kante we made light work of Bournemouth on Boxing Day. Antonio Conte believed it ‘sent a good message’ to the rest of the league, proof of the depth of quality in his squad. In the lead role up front, Eden Hazard flourished, ably supported by the fast, direct running of Pedro and Willian alongside him.
But it also speaks volumes about Diego Costa’s irrepressible performances this season that he is expected to be welcomed back with open arms for the visit of Stoke City today. Our 12-game winning streak has been characterised by the collective, but it is safe to say no player has brought as many individual moments of quality to this three-month-long party as Diego Costa. His response when the official Chelsea website asks him if he is in the form of his life might strike even more fear into the Premier League defences he has terrorised up and down the country.
‘I have been better than I am now,’ the striker asserts. ‘And that gives me more motivation to try to get better. That’s what I will carry on doing.
"Eden is incredible. There are very few people like him."
‘I don’t set myself personal targets, in terms of goals and assists. What I try to do is improve, always. If the previous campaign hasn’t been very good, or even if it has, I just try to do a better campaign than the one before. My main aspiration, and not just mine, my team-mates’ too, is to conquer the title again.
‘I felt we like had something to prove coming into this season. Last season we left a debt behind, so to speak. And that’s the secret to our great form this season. We owe a lot to our people and we are hoping we are going to be able to pay that back.’
Diego Costa’s currency of choice, first and foremost, is goals. His 13 this season have come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from the low 89th-minute drive that won our opening fixture of the season against West Ham, to the most recent, a clever lobbed header which separated the sides at Selhurst Park.
There was the instinctive volley against Middlesbrough (pictured above), those brilliant curled efforts at Hull and Southampton, and the ones when he was too strong (West Brom, Man City), too quick (Watford) and too skilful (Swansea) for all those who stood in his way.
His all-round game has also been mighty impressive, whether in the 4-2-3-1 shape we started the season with, or the 3-4-3 that has yielded so many consecutive victories. His five assists this term puts him in the league’s top 10 players for setting up goals.
‘I am here to score goals and that’s what I need to keep doing,’ he explains. ‘That hasn’t changed.
‘I’ve always given assists, even in previous teams, and I am very happy that I have been able to help my team-mates so much this year. It’s something I will carry on doing.
‘The new formation hasn’t changed anything for me personally. If anything it has meant a change for some of the other players who are playing slightly different positions, with different roles. All in all, it’s clearly working really well for the team.’
Diego’s form in November earned him the league’s Player of the Month award, passed on by Eden Hazard following the Belgian’s outstanding October. Pedro has also been extremely influential of late, not least when he equalised against Tottenham with what was voted November’s Goal of the Month.
‘Pedro is a very good player and he comes from an incredible school, he comes from Barcelona,’ Diego Costa notes of his international team-mate.
‘He scores goals like the ones against Tottenham and Bournemouth all the time when we are training.
‘Eden is just incredible,’ he adds of our no.10.
‘He’s the sort of player who is able to win a match by himself. He’s extraordinary. There are very few people like him. He’s very confident in what he does and he is transmitting that confidence to us.
‘The thing is Pedro, Willian, and Eden are all great players and they are in great form right now. That definitely helps me as a striker and I hope it will make us win many more matches.’