In the midst of, what is turning out to be, quite some title race in the Premier League, Chelsea striker Diego Costa has hit a purple patch of form.
The Spanish international, who leads the club’s scoring ranks this season, having hit the back of the net on 18 occasions (four goals ahead of PFA Player of the Year-nominated Eden Hazard), has now failed to score in 490 minutes of top flight action.
In Chelsea’s 2-0 weekend defeat to Manchester United, Costa did little to further his cause. Seemingly unable to influence proceedings with his footballing ability, the 28-year-old could be seen carrying out his usual mischievous antics, for which he was duly awarded his eighth yellow card of the season.
Quite incredibly, the Chelsea frontman’s last five Premier League games have seen him commit 19 fouls, and pick up three cautions. In this time he has managed just three attempts at goal, while failing to fashion a single key pass for Antonio Conte’s table-topping side.
To put the Spaniard’s plight into perspective, since he last scored: Tottenham’s Harry Kane injured his ankle ligaments, causing him to miss three and a half games; Heung-min Son has scored five goals; Kane has returned to action; Kane has set up one goal and recorded one assist.
Against Jose Mourinho’s United, Costa failed to register a single shot on target, as the London outfit failed to manage a single accurate attempt in a Premier League game for the first time since September 2007 (which, coincidentally, also came against the Red Devils, at Old Trafford).
In addition, he was found responsible for losing possession on 23 occasions. Indeed, six misplaced passes, six unsuccessful touches and ten occasions in which he was dispossessed by an opponent epitomised an afternoon-to-forget for the former Atletico Madrid-man.
Costa’s miserable performances over the last month have to the resurfacing of January speculation, as reported by The Guardian, which linked him with a big-money move to China. While his long-term future is yet to be decided, Conte should undoubtedly consider the centre-forward’s position in the immediate future.
Lying in the Spaniard’s wake is £31.5 million summer signing, Michy Batshuayi, who is yet to be afforded a Premier League start for his new club.
The former Marseille has made 17 substitute appearances for the league leaders – managing just one goal with this limited time – despite scoring on 17 occasions in 36 Ligue 1 appearances last term.
The Belgian international is yet to be entrusted by Antonio Conte, despite Diego Costa’s misfiring form. Perhaps now, with Chelsea having lost two games on the bounce, would be the best time for the Italian head coach to give him a fair shot at spearheading his favoured 3-4-3 system.
There is nothing to suggest Costa will not return to scoring form just as quickly as he has seemingly lost his scoring touch – after all, he is a player who thrives off frustration.
Nonetheless, with a number of key games remaining this season, starting with the weekend’s FA Cup meeting with title rivals Spurs, now could be the perfect window for Conte to make a tactical switch.
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