Diego Costa has been providing his thoughts on a wide range of subjects ahead of today’s game at Bournemouth, including his desire to keep playing as we chase silverware on two fronts, the on-pitch understanding he enjoys with Eden Hazard and his overall happiness at Stamford Bridge.
A near ever-present this season, the Chelsea striker has led the line brilliantly and scored 18 goals in all competitions.
Wednesday’s win over Manchester City maintained our seven-point lead over second-placed Tottenham Hotspur, and having been part of the team which won the title two years ago, Diego Costa knows what we will need to do over the coming weeks to ensure we finish the season strongly.
‘We are showing match after match that no matter what team we play against we are doing all we can to win,’ he said. ‘We are a compact, strong team. We give the best of us at every match. We might lose a match here and there, it is normal. But for others to win against us they really need to play an amazing match. I think we are in a very good moment and we need to go on like this for the remaining matches.
‘We know Bournemouth is a team that will be playing at home. The have some very strong and very fast players and they are capable of winning any match. So we have to play a compact match, because they are doing well and it is not going to be easy. We have to impose our best football.’
So far this season the forward has managed to remain free from any injury problems, and there has also been a conscious effort on his part to steer clear of any controversial incidents, as he explained.
‘The suspensions I received made me reflect,’ said Diego Costa. ‘I stopped and thought about it. I realised I was the only one losing out at the end of the day. Back then sometimes I thought the suspension was unfair and that I was right and the others were wrong, that they were exaggerating. But either way I was always losing out. So it was a question of either letting them send me out all the time or changing, because with no change from my part I would never be playing, never enjoying.
‘So I decided to avoid arguments with referees, with players from the other teams. I just knew they would not let the slightest thing pass, not with me.’
The 3-4-3 formation implemented by Conte earlier in the campaign has served us well and Diego Costa, who enjoys being the focal point of our attack, has been impressed by the Blues boss and the way he gets the best out of his players.
‘The team is more compact,’ he said. ‘We feel more confident. The formation Antonio has introduced has been really good for us. It has been impressive because there are players who had never played in the positions they are playing now and they are actually doing really well. I always enjoy playing, always try to give the best of me. Whatever the formation I always try to play well and score in order to help the team.
‘He has imposed a formation he had in mind from the moment he arrived. During the pre-season it did not quite work because the players were not used to it yet and he saw we were not ready yet. But he knew the system we had before was not what he wanted, it did not work for him. So he imposed his ideas. He has changed things a lot tactically speaking and things have started to work really well.’
Diego Costa also praised the contributions this season of two of his team-mates, Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante.
‘Playing with him is something beautiful,’ he said of the Belgian. ‘You are playing on the field and enjoying at the same time what he does during the minutes he is on the field, because he is a top player. At every moment I know more or less when he is going to pass the ball on to me and I also sort of know when he's going to ask me for the ball to complete the move.
‘He is a boy who impresses me every day. He has huge potential and he is a very humble, easy-going guy. A beautiful person. We get on really well while playing and I hope we stay together like this for a very long time.
‘He’s proved how important he has been. He is the sort of player who makes the difference in very important games. He is a different sort of player and to me he is one of the best players in the Premier League by far.
‘Kante is the team’s heart. He is a player who gives us a lot of things: he scores for us and on the field he offers a huge support, not so much for me personally because of my position at the front, but he is always there for the defenders and midfielders. He is an impressive player. All you need to think is he left Leicester and Leicester has not had such a good season compared to the previous one, so you really notice a lot when a player like him goes.’
A fit and firing Diego Costa will help our trophy pursuit enormously, and the striker is completely focused on helping his team achieve more success.
‘I want to play,’ said the striker. ‘Playing right now is great. We are playing to win a championship. During the previous season I was out a lot of the time, either because of a suspension or an injury or for another reason. So this year I really want to play the remaining matches and enjoy myself here in Chelsea.'